The Olympic pointman for the Tokyo Games said Friday that the finish line was once inside touching distance, insisting that it would be secure for athletes and the Japanese population despite ongoing risks from Covid-19. John Coates, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and head of the IOC’s coordination commission for Tokyo, told a virtual press convention with native organisers that the July 23-August 8 Games would go ahead despite the fact that the city of Tokyo remains in a state of emergency.
“After eight years, the finish line is inside touching distance,” he said of the Olympics that were postponed a year on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
The IOC, the Australian added, would work with Japanese officials to “deliver a secure and protected Games for everyone”.
“The Games will be secure for everyone participating and the Japanese people.
“These are unique circumstances. We’ve never had a postponed Games before.”
The Games have only been cancelled on three occasions, on account of World War I in 1916 and because of World War II in 1940 and 1946.
Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee, admitted there was once a portion of the native population “who feel uneasy at the prospect of people coming in from in another country and mixing”.
She also acknowledged that some were troubled by the risk of overburdening Japan’s medical resources.
Japan has seen a quite small coronavirus outbreak, with around 12,000 deaths overall, but a recent surge in infections has put hospitals under strain, medics say.
Nine regions including Tokyo are currently under a virus state of emergency that runs until May 31.
– ‘Public opinion will give a boost to’ –
Hashimoto said she had “three thoroughs”, stressing that there would be a “thorough discount of inbound population, a thorough restriction in behaviour, and a thorough review of the medical regime”.
Japan was once currently “in the process of adjusting the number of stakeholders arriving to narrow it down to the minimum”, she said.
There will be an estimated 50-60,000 Covid tests carried out day by day, with processing handled privately. Hashimoto said there would be 230 Japanese doctors and 310 nurses on day by day duty for the Olympics, adding that nurses could be asked to come out of retirement to help out.
“We’re doing everything conceivable in order that the Games are secure for participants and people in Japan,” said Coates.
Coates also played down recent polls that have shown an overwhelming response from the Japanese people for a cancellation or further postponement of the Games, saying there was once likely a “correlation between ballot numbers and vaccination” rollout for the Japanese, which remains quite low.
“Public opinion will give a boost to,” he said, adding that whether it didn’t, “we just make certain we get on with our job”.
Christophe Dubi, IOC’s Olympic Games executive director, was once quick to add that organisers had a “duty to notify and be translucent with where we are with measures”.
Organisers have outlined extensive virus countermeasures to retain the Olympics secure, including barring in another country fans for the first time ever. The number of people with Olympic responsibilities entering Japan from in another country for the Games has also been halved.
“The public will have to be kept informed because information helps to reassure,” Dubi said, citing the “playbook” laying out what measures athletes and other stakeholders should abide by before entry to Japan and right through their stay.
Asked why the IOC was once pushing ahead with the Games, Coates said: “We’re doing it for the athletes. The desire of the athletes is as high as ever.
“We need to give athletes the possibility to compete.”
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