John Coates has said Tokyo 2020 will take place next year with or without COVID-19 ©Getty Images
Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission chair John Coates has claimed the Olympic Games will take place next year, with or without COVID-19.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president made the declaration in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
Coates’ comments come amid ongoing uncertainty over the fate of next year’s Games, which were postponed earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It will take place with or without COVID,” Coates said.
“The Games will start on July 23 next year.
“The Games were going to be, their theme, the ‘Reconstruction Games’ after the devastation of the tsunami.
“Now very much these will be the Games that conquered COVID, the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The first of five meetings of a three-party council set-up to aid the organisation of next year’s Olympics and Paralympics was held on Friday (September 4) in Tokyo.
The meetings will feature officials from the Japanese Government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, with the aim of producing “robust countermeasures” by the conclusion of the year.
Athletes, transportation and border control will be the focus of the next meeting later this month, with the Athletes’ Village and competition venues due to be the focus of meetings in October.
Japan currently denies entry to people from 146 countries and regions as part of its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Those who are allowed to enter are asked to spend two weeks in quarantine.
It is expected that around 11,000 athletes from more than 200 nations and territories will compete at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Entry restrictions could be eased for the Games next year.
A mobile app that tracks the movements of athletes and other attendees of the Games could potentially be introduced, as well as measures regarding pre-Games training camps, rules for public transport and the necessity of an isolation period upon entry into Japan.
Spectators will be the focus of the final meeting in November.
Coates admitted there was a “massive task” facing Japanese organisers, but expressed confidence the host nation would be able to welcome athletes from across the world.
The rescheduled Olympic Games are due to take place from July 23 to August 8 next year ©Getty Images
“Their job now is to look at all the different countermeasures that will be required for the Games to take place,” Coates told AFP.
“Some countries will have it under control, some won’t.
“We’ll have athletes therefore coming from places where it’s under control and some where it is not.
“There’s 206 teams, so there’s a massive task being undertaken on the Japanese side.”
Guidelines are expected to be published in December by the coronavirus countermeasures panel.
Organisers have been examining the resumption of professional baseball and football in Japan in recent months, with limited numbers of spectators permitted to attend.
Both Tokyo 2020 and the IOC have repeatedly stressed they are including crowds in their planning for the rescheduled Games, but have acknowledged holding events without fans is a possibility.
Sporting events have also resumed internationally, with several professional football leagues in Europe having successfully concluded their seasons behind closed doors.
Bio-secure bubbles have allowed the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League to resume their coronavirus-impacted seasons, while the US Open tennis tournament is also being held under similar circumstances.
By Michael Pavitt