The Star Late Edition
Games still on, says IOC
THE International Olympic Committee (IOC) is “moving fully ahead” with the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics despite widespread public unease in Japan over the spread of the coronavirus. A state of emergency was extended in Japan this week after Covid-19 cases swelled, but the IOC is hopeful that the virus will be contained.
The IOC is confident that despite public opinion, which is largely against the Games, the Japanese government will be able to host the Olympics in a spectacular fashion. In fact, it believes that once the Olympics start in Tokyo, public sentiment will turn in favour of the event.
“As things stand, and as we talk to our Japanese partners and friends, we are moving full-ahead,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said in an online press conference on Wednesday. “There has been a small extension of the emergency situation, but we continue to plan for full Games – and that’s the way it has to be and that’s the only way it can be for us. And everything is telling us, from the test events to international events, that the Games can go ahead, and will go ahead”.
“We are now in an implementation phase. With 78 days left before the Games, we are fully concentrated now in this last implementation phase of delivering an excellent Games which will really bring the world together”.
The Tokyo Games are scheduled to begin on 23 July, but with just about two months left to go, coronavirus cases in the country are seeing an upsurge, prompting the government to extend a state of emergency.
About 7800 athletes have already qualified for the Olympics in Tokyo and national sports federations across the world are working overtime to prepare their athletes for the Games, as all the participating nations want to put up a stellar show in Tokyo.
A majority of Japan’s population is not in favour of the Games, with many calling for the Olympics to be called off or postponed for a second time.
Notably, leading tennis stars, including Rafael Nadal, American legend Serena Williams, and Japanese players Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori, have cast doubt about their participation in the Olympics. Moreover, both Nishikori and Osaka have voiced their concerns about hosting the Games at a time when the world is battling a deadly second wave of the coronavirus.