The Tokyo Olympics that was postponed to next year will go ahead regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic, International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates said on Monday, September 7.
"It will take place with or without COVID. The Games will start on July 23 next year," Coates, who heads the IOC's Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Games," told news agency AFP.
"The Games were going to be, their theme, the Reconstruction Games after the devastation of the tsunami. Now very much these will be the Games that conquered COVID, the light at the end of the tunnel," Coates said referring to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
While the Olympics was originally scheduled to start in July 2020, it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The IOC had earlier announced that the Games won't be delayed beyond 2021.
However, amid the pandemic, Japan's borders continue to remain largely closed to foreign visitors. As a vaccine is months or years away, speculations have risen on whether the Games are feasible.
In July, Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020 chief executive said that while it was possible that the Games be held to a "limited" audience, they wanted to avoid the possibility of having no spectators at all. He added that the Games could perhaps "simplify" it's opening and closing ceremonies and reduce the number of staff and delegations from each country.
Muto also added that a vaccine was not a prerequisite for the Games. Over 11,000 athletes from nearly 200 countries were scheduled to take part in the 2020 Games.
A task force has now been set up to look at the different scenarios in 2021 - from whether fans can pack venues to how border controls will affect the movement of athletes and officials.
"Their job now is to look at all the different counter-measures that will be required for the Games to take place. Some countries will have it (COVID) under control, some won't. We'll have athletes, therefore, coming from places where it's under control and somewhere it is not," Coates said.