IOC President visits Tokyo to rally troops

(Tokyo) The International Olympic Committee and the organizers of the Tokyo Games have been saying for months that the Olympics will take place from July 23, 2021 despite the pandemic.

They will shout it even louder from the rooftops on Monday and Tuesday. IOC President Thomas Bach will be in Tokyo to tour, shake hands and pose for photos on his first visit since the Games were postponed more than seven months ago.

Bach intends to repeat his message in front of supporting politicians and an audience distracted by the pandemic and ambivalent about the presentation of the Games – in addition to being worried about the socio-economic situation.

Bach is unlikely to provide details in a public speech, but has repeatedly claimed that the IOC is preparing “multiple scenarios” to allow 11,000 athletes to travel to Tokyo, as well as supporters to attend. at competitions. The Paralympic Games must also bring together 4,350 athletes.

Bach spoke confidently that a vaccine will be ready on time and rapid screening tests will be available. He said these two tools would make it easier to present the Games, as well as qualifying events.

“I believe we have more and more confidence that there will be a reasonable number of spectators,” Bach said last week at the IOC’s headquarters in Switzerland. He believes it will also be possible for foreign visitors to attend the Games, but the number and protocol are still uncertain.

Bach was also asked last week whether he was going to Tokyo to discuss contingency plans in the event of the Olympics being canceled.

“No,” he simply replied.

Bach is traveling to Tokyo in a private plane and he will meet the new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday morning. A few hours later, he will present an Olympic award to former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

An hour later, he will meet with Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, then attend a press conference with the Chairman of the Tokyo Games Organizing Committee, Yoshiro Mori, another former prime minister. Several events will take place virtually, but others will be open to journalists on site.

Japan has reported just under 1,900 deaths attributed to COVID-19. It has controlled the spread of the virus better than several countries, but has seen record spikes in cases in recent days as several parts of the world face a second wave.

Bach does not have any public appearances scheduled Tuesday until mid-afternoon. He may meet with sponsors or give interviews to local media.

He will visit the Athletes’ Village along Tokyo Bay on Tuesday afternoon and then the new US $ 1.4 billion National Stadium.

Bach has already called the Tokyo Games the best prepared in history, which he is expected to repeat several times during his stay.

He risks avoiding the subject of event costs, the majority of which are paid for by public funds. A study from the University of Oxford concluded that it was the most expensive Summer Games in history.

A check of government records last year indicated costs could reach around $ 25 billion. Only 5.6 billion does not come from public funds.

This was before the expenses related to the postponement of the Games, estimated between two and three billion. The IOC has indicated that it could offer around 650 million to Japan for the postponement of the Games, but has not publicly provided more details about this.

The Tokyo Games organizing committee said the event would cost 7.3 billion when it was awarded the Olympics in 2013.

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