Olympics chief Thomas Bach revealed “doubts” and “sleepless nights” over the postponed Tokyo Games on Tuesday as the opening ceremony nears after a year’s delay and coronavirus chaos that has made them deeply unpopular with the Japanese public. Bach, speaking at the International Olympic Committee session in Tokyo, said the unprecedented step of postponing the Games had proved more complicated than he thought. The build-up to Friday’s opening ceremony has been exceptionally rocky, with Tokyo still under a state of emergency and public opinion consistently against the Games, which will be held in large part without spectators.
“Over the last 15 months we had to take many decisions on very uncertain grounds. We had doubts on a daily basis. We deliberated and discussed. There were sleepless nights,” said Bach.
“This also weighed on us, it weighed on me. But as a way to arrive at this day today we had to give confidence, had to show a way out of this crisis,” he added.
Bach has drawn scattered protests all through his visit to Japan, where the most recent ballot in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper showed 55 percent of respondents objected holding the Games this summer.
Four people have tested positive in the Olympic Village, heightening fears that the inflow of thousands of athletes, officials and media will add to a spike in cases in Japan.
A teenage US gymnast staying outdoor the Village was once also a number of the 71 Games-related cases reported so far.
Olympic and Japanese officials have staunchly defended the Games, which are being held in a strict biosecure “bubble” with day-to-day testing. Eighty percent of athletes at the Games have been vaccinated.
“We will be able to in any case see at the end of the dark tunnel,” said Bach, adding: “Cancellation was once never an option for us. The IOC never abandons the athletes… we did it for the athletes.”
Bach was once speaking at an bizarre IOC session, where mask-wearing delegates sat socially distanced at individual desks and the podium microphone was once wiped after each and every speaker.
It reflected an Olympics which will chiefly take place in empty stadiums to the sound of recorded crowd noises, starting with the opening ceremony in the 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium.
The ceremony will take place without the music of Keigo ‘Cornelius’ Oyamada, who quit on Monday after an outcry over past interviews where he described bullying disabled schoolmates.
“I have transform painfully aware that accepting the offer of my musical participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics lacked consideration to a large number of people,” he said in a remark.
Major sponsor Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, also scrapped plans to run an Olympic-linked brand crusade in Japan, as a senior official said the Games lacked “understanding” from the public.
Topics mentioned in this article