“We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo,” Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, said assuredly on Kyodo News yesterday. “This is why there is no plan B, and this is why we are fully committed to make these games safe and successful.”
Only five previous Olympics have ever been postponed, and they have all been due to World Wars. The last one to be canceled altogether was the 1940 Summer Games, which was also initially scheduled to be held in Tokyo until the plug was later pulled.
However, his tone of certainty belied the rumblings that the postponed 2020 Olympics may indeed be done after all. After a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, many parts of Japan are now declared to be in a state of emergency, including Tokyo. And the Japanese government has allegedly been working to save face as well as to squelch rumors that the games are officially canceled, too, according to a report in London’s The Times. “It is very disappointing to see that the Times is developing such a tabloid-like story with an untrustworthy source,” an IOC representative told Reuters.
Even swimming great Michael Phelps has his doubts. He acknowledges that there are too many factors needed to happen properly for it to be successful and safe in the face of the current pandemic. “The fact that you’re going to put 10,000-plus athletes, plus all the volunteers, plus all the coaches, plus, plus, plus… It doesn’t make sense to me,” he said in an interview with CNN this past December. “I just don’t see how it can happen. But fingers crossed that everything with vaccines — and everything goes smoothly on that front. But I mean. I don’t know. There is just too much unknown.”
But former IOC VP and legendary board member Dick Pound thinks the solution is eliminating one major X-factor: the fans. “The question is, is this a ‘must-have’ or ‘nice-to-have,’” Pound told Kyodo News. “It’s nice to have spectators. But it’s not a must-have… In the end, the decision will be based on risk. And the bottom line, they say, is that it’s better to have the games, even if there are no spectators than it would be to cancel them because there are no spectators.”
“But at the moment, the plans are in place,” concluded Pound. “All the indications are that we should go ahead. There’s no reason why the games can’t go on.”