The postponed Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead next year “with or without Covid,” said John Coates, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee. Coates confirmed that the Olympics would start on July 23 next year, calling them the “Games that conquered Covid”.
The IOC had earlier said they would not delay the Games beyond 2021. The Olympics have never been cancelled outside of the world wars.
“The Games were going to be their theme, the Reconstruction Games after the devastation of the tsunami,” Coates told AFP, referring to 2011 catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan. “Now very much these will be the Games that conquered Covid, the light at the end of the tunnel.”
In July, Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said it was possible that the Games be held to a “limited” audience, but said they wanted to avoid the possibility of having no spectators at all.
Japan’s borders are still largely closed to foreign visitors, feeding speculation about whether the Games are feasible at all.
Japanese officials have made clear they would not delay them a second time beyond 2021.
There are signs that public enthusiasm in Japan is waning after a recent poll found just one in four Japanese want them to go ahead next year, with most backing either another postponement or a cancellation.