Tokyo Olympics Will Take Place Next Year ‘With Or Without Covid,’ Says IOC VP

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Alison Durkee   Forbes U.S. Staff

Tokyo Olympics Will Take Place Next Year ‘With Or Without Covid,’ Says IOC VP

Photo: Olympic Facebook.

The Tokyo Summer Olympics will go forward despite the coronavirus, International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates told Agence France-Presse Monday, as Olympics officials still scramble to figure out what the postponed summer games will look like amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

KEY FACTS

- Coates said the summer games will start as planned on July 23, 2021 “with or without Covid,” after being postponed for a year amid the pandemic.

- Public health experts have been skeptical that the games can take place as planned unless a vaccine is widely available around the world, even as Olympics officials have previously said they intend to go forward with or without a vaccine.

- What the 2021 Olympics could look like with coronavirus restrictions still remains in flux, though officials have said they want the event to be held with at least a limited number of spectators.

- A University of Oxford study found the Tokyo games are already the most expensive summer games of all time—already exceeding 200% of its planned costs—with costs still expected to go higher amid the delay.

- Officials have said that if the Tokyo Olympics do not take place in 2021, they are likely to be canceled entirely, rather than further postponed.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

“These will be the Games that conquered Covid, the light at the end of the tunnel,” Coates told AFP.

BIG NUMBER

23.9%. That’s the percentage of people in Japan who actually favor holding the Olympics next year as planned, according to a Kyodo News survey conducted in July. A survey from Tokyo Shoko Research also found that out of nearly 13,000 Japanese companies surveyed, only 46.2% wanted the games to go forward in some way, while 27.8% thought they should be canceled and 25.8% wanted them to be further postponed.

CHIEF CRITIC

Health experts have been warning that the timeline for holding the Olympics amid the pandemic may make it impossible to safely hold the summer games, with George Washington University global health professor Ronald Waldman telling USA Today he doesn’t “see it happening” given the virus is still “very, very likely” to continue spreading around the world in early 2021. “The major concern is not just the holding of the event itself, which I think is logistically almost impossible,” Waldman said. “But when you factor in all of the time that’s required up front, the lead-up time for both organizers and the athletes, I just can’t imagine that could all happen.”

KEY BACKGROUND

The Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled to take place in July, were postponed in March as the Covid-19 pandemic spread rapidly around the world. The Olympics had never previously been postponed during peacetime, and the games have only ever historically been cancelled due to war, in 1916, 1940 and 1944.

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Alison Durkee   Forbes U.S. Staff

I am a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I previously covered politics and news for Vanity Fair and Mic, and as a theater critic I serve as a member of the New York Outer Critics Circle.