International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and Yoshiro Mori, the head of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, gave an online pep talk Monday to national Olympic committee representatives to allay fears about the postponed games.
About 200 national Olympic committees are expected to be represented next year in Tokyo. Organizers held an English-speaking session on Monday for chefs de mission, with French and Spanish sessions scheduled for later in the week.
These sessions have been typically held in the host city and were held in Tokyo before the Olympics were postponed.
“The fact that I can only greet you virtually is itself a reflection of the unprecedented situation we all are facing,” Bach said in his brief, pre-recorded opening remarks to the three-hour meeting.
The session was not open to the media.
Bach assured the delegates that Tokyo was preparing for every eventuality, but acknowledged it may be months before the contours of the postponed Olympics will be clear.
‘Countermeasures for every possible scenario’
“Even in these ever-changing times, many of the operation details that are on top of all chefs de mission’s minds are still being worked on,” Bach said. “But please rest assured that we are focused on developing a tool box of COVID countermeasures for every possible scenario.”
Bach again called Tokyo “the best prepared Olympic city.”
Mori, a former Japanese prime minister, said he was aware of the “anxiety” the postponement had created. But he spoke optimistically that Tokyo can pull it off.
“You will no doubt be most affected by the various anti-corona measures that will be put in place,” he said.
Details yet to be revealed
Tokyo organizers have said exact details about how more than 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes can compete safely in Tokyo — and the presence of thousands more officials, staff members and media — will be not revealed until later this year, or well into 2021.
This also includes questions about whether fans will be allowed at the venues, and if non-Japanese fans will be permitted to attend at all.
Bach repeated that on-going developments of rapid tests and vaccines “gives us all good reason for cautious optimism.”
Tokyo to hold gymnastics meet featuring foreign teams
Tokyo is planning to hold an international gymnastics meet next month that will exempt non-Japanese athletes from a 14-day quarantine period, an approach that might foreshadow planning for next year’s postponed Olympics.
The Japanese Gymnastics Association announced the meet will feature athletes from the United States, Russia, China and Japan.
The one-day event is set for Nov. 8 at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium. The Japanese news agency Kyodo reported that 2,000 fans will be allowed to attend, and it said athletes’ travel will be restricted while in the country.
Kyodo said the non-Japanese athletes will take a polymerase chain reaction test before they leave home, and will also be tested daily in Japan. The event will involve 32 gymnasts — eight from each country.
Tokyo organizers are studying contingencies from next year’s Olympics, which are scheduled to open on July 23, 2021. The most difficult problems is how to let 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes compete in Tokyo and keep from spreading the coronavirus.
In addition to athletes, organizers will have to accommodate thousands of team officials, technical officials who run the competitions, media, broadcasters, and sponsors. Also up in the air is the question of having fans attend events, or of allowing non-Japanese fans to even enter the country.