Less than 10 weeks out from the postponed start to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, organizers have promised athletes they are doing everything they can to ensure the Games take place safely.
Japan is struggling with a renewed outbreak of coronavirus, with only about 1% of the population vaccinated – renewing calls for the Olympics to be canceled.
Speaking at a meeting of the coordination committee Wednesday, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Japanese and Tokyo 2020 officials would make the right decision on managing the situation, and the risks had been managed well so far.
Bach and other officials – both from the IOC and Japanese sporting bodies – pushed back against critics, with the IOC President saying his organization has offered to provide additional medical personnel to help pull off strict anti-Covid measures alongside the Tokyo government.
He added that 75% of people who plan on being in the Olympic Village have already been vaccinated, while organizers hope the final number will be more than 80%.
Bach said the existing plans have been tested with foreign athletes in several test events – none of which turned into super spreader events.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto, also speaking at the opening of the meeting, said the purpose of Wednesday’s session was to focus on the protection of athletes and the public. She said the two main focuses would be the frequent testing of athletes and separating them from the Japanese public.
Earlier this month, an online petition calling for the Games to be canceled garnered 350,000 signatures in nine days, while the CEO of leading Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten has called plans to host the Games a “suicide mission.”
“Stop Tokyo Olympics” campaign organizer Kenji Utsunomiya said the event should take place only when Japan can welcome visitors and athletes wholeheartedly.
“We are not in that situation and therefore the Games should be canceled,” he told a news conference, according to Reuters. “Precious medical resources would need to be diverted to the Olympics if it’s held.”
Speaking to CNN this week, World Athletics president Seb Coe said he was confident the Games could be held safely.
“Should we have the Games? Yes, we should. Can we have them safely and secure? I believe we can,” Coe said. “I’m not cavalier about that. But I do think there are systems that are now tried and tested. We know so much more about these systems than we did a year ago.”