Rescheduled Tokyo Olympics need sacrifices from all stakeholders: Bach


LAUSANNE International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Wednesday that the postponed Tokyo Games would require “sacrifices and compromises” from all sides to make them work. “These postponed Olympic Games will need sacrifices, will need compromises by all of the stakeholders,” Bach told reporters in a conference call the day after the IOC decided to delay the 2020 Games because of the coronavirus pandemic. The IOC’s role, Bach said, was “to make the Olympic dreams of athletes come true”. He admitted that cancelling the Tokyo Games was “discussed and considered”, but said: “It was very clear from the beginning that cancellation was not something the IOC would in any way favour.” It is the first Olympic Games in peacetime to be postponed. Bach said the rescheduling of the Games in 2021 remained a “very challenging question”. A taskforce, named ‘Here We Go’, had been created to examine the issue, Bach added, saying the first port of call would be with the 33 international federations, likely starting with a conference call on Thursday. “The first step, we have to see with them, to see what the options are. We also have to take into account the sports calendar around the Olympic Games,” the German said. The rescheduling, he added, “is not restricted just to the summer months. All the options are on the table, before and including the summer of2021”. Both World Athletics and the International Swimming Federation say they are prepared to move their 2021 world championships to accommodate the rescheduled Games. The Athletics world championships are due to be held in Eugene, Oregon on August 6-15 next year, with the swimming worlds at Fukuoka in Japan between July 16 and August 1. One of the many logistical headaches caused by the historic postponement of the Tokyo Olympics has been the uncertainty around the Athletes’Village overlookingTokyo Bay. Touted by developers as a “flagship neighbourhood for urban lifestyles”, the buildings housing the 11,000 competitors were to be hastily repurposed into more than 4,000 condos with stunning city views, some carrying a pricetag of 170 million yen ($1.5 million). When asked about how a postponement might affect the Village and its conversion, Bach said: “I cannottell you whatthe situation is. “It’s one of the many thousand of questions the taskforce has to address. “It’s the Olympic Village (where) the heart of the Games is usually beating.” Bach, who was part of West Germany’s gold medal-winning foil fencing team at the 1976 Olympics, added: “Of course, I’d be very, very delightedif we could have the Olympic Village in the traditional form. “Everybodywho has once lived in an Olympic Village knows that this is the real Olympic experience, that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “Living under one roof with the whole world, sharing your meals together, celebrating together, discussing together, and forming this unique Olympic unity.” Bach concluded by saying: “We are at an unprecedented situation and have an unprecedented challenge. “We have to find the best possible situation under the circumstances that we are living in.” Squeezing in the 16-day Games into what will already be a hugely crowded 2021 calendar is another major headache, with the two biggest Olympic sports, athletics and swimming, due to hold their world championships that summer. However,WorldAthletics has already said it is prepared to shift its world championships, scheduled forAugust 6- 15 next year in Eugene, Oregon, to accommodate a rescheduled Games. “It is what athletes want and we believe this decision will give all athletes, technical officials and volunteers some respite and certainty in these unprecedented and uncertain times,” track and field’s global governing body said. “Not denied. Just delayed,” tweeted American triple Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta. Swimming’s international federation, FINA, said it would also work with local organisers “in order to determine flexibility” for their scheduled July 16-August 1 competition, 2021 world championships in the Japanese city of Fukuoka. Football’s governing body FIFA welcomed the postponement and said it “firmly believesthatthe health and well-being of all individuals involved in sporting activities should always be the highest priority”. And gymnastics chief Morinari Watanabe hailed “a very courageous decision”.—AFP

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