The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, admitted today that during the road to the Tokyo Games “there were doubts every day” due to the pandemic, although this body I decided not to make them public so as not to feed the uncertainty about the event.
Bach spoke as he presented the final report on the preparations for the Games in the Japanese capital at the 138th plenary session of the IOC, which started this Tuesday in Tokyo in a mixed face-to-face and online format and three days after the opening of Tokyo 2020.
The head of the IOC pointed out that this organization and the Japanese hosts “faced a choice at the beginning of the pandemic: cancel or postpone,” and stated that opt for the first option “it would have been the easiest”.
But not even the IOC nor did the Japanese hosts “ever consider cancellation”said Bach, who added that the International Olympic body “never abandons athletes.”
There were doubts every day, and many sleepless nights. Like the rest of the people around the world, we did not know what tomorrow was going to bring
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
The German admitted that those responsible for the Games “did not know how complex it was going to be” to carry out the event in the midst of a pandemic, something that had never been done before, and pointed out that the only certainty was “that it would be necessary to invest a lot ms “to achieve it.
“There were doubts every day, and many sleepless nights. Like the rest of the people around the world, we did not know what tomorrow was going to bring,” acknowledged Bach in his intervention before the plenary session.
The president of the IOC explained that this body decided “not to express those doubts” because having done so “would have contributed to the environment of uncertainty”. the doubts “will have ended up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy” and the Tokyo Games “will have been blown up”.
The Chairperson of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, Seiko Hashimoto, also admitted the difficulty of the road to the Olympic event in the Japanese capital, as well as the “limitations” of Games that “will be very different” from previous events of the same type.
An event to “inspire humanity”
Despite all this, Tokyo 2020 aspires to “revisit the value of Olympism and reconnect everyone”, a new type of Games that he proposed to call “the Tokyo model”.
The prime minister of Japan, Yoshihide suga, who also spoke at the assembly, stated that “the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is already in sight”, and that in that context the Tokyo Games will take place.
In most cases there will be no spectators in the stands. But the meaning of the Games will not be reduced
Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister of Japan
“In most cases there will be no spectators in the stands. But the meaning of the Games will not be reduced,” said the Japanese leader, who stressed that the event “must show the unity of humanity”, offer “hopes and dreams” and “inspire the young.”
The highest priority of the IOC and the hosts, however, will be to “ensure that the Games are safe” and “protect the health of the participants and the Japanese citizen”as both Bach and Hashimoto emphasized.
The Tokyo Games will take place in an unprecedented “bubble” format that includes the absence of an audience in the stands, the veto entry to Japan of foreign visitors and strict movement limitations for all participants in the event.