LAUSANNE: With one year to go until the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said in a video message that the Games will be a “symbol of hope” in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tokyo Games, originally scheduled to start on July 24 this year, were postponed for the first time in the Olympic history, to be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021.
“This milestone of the one year to go is a very significant one, for sport but also for the worldwide society. It can and will be the great comeback festival of sport to the international scene and we are preparing for this in the one year that remains for us to make these Olympic Games a real great festival of hope, of resilience and of solidarity,” Bach said.
“This Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 21 can, should and will be the light at the end of the tunnel that all humankind is in at this moment, we are living in a period of great uncertainty. Then at the end of this very difficult period for humankind, the Olympic Games can be a great symbol of hope, of optimism, of solidarity and in unity in all our diversity.”
Earlier this month, the IOC reaffirmed its commitment to staging the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 on its 136th Session – the first-ever Session held by video conference – while managing the risks brought by the COVID-19.
“This is a mammoth task because we cannot prepare the Olympic Games as we are used to. In fact, we have to prepare for multiple scenarios for the Olympic Games,” the president said. “So there was established one principle for all and this is a top priority, that the Olympic Games will respect and safeguard the health of all the participants.
“We want to prepare these Games and adapt it to the circumstances of the crisis at the time while ensuring for everybody the Olympic spirit. Because this is what makes the Olympic Games so unique, uniting the entire world.”
The Session also confirmed that all the venues and the competition schedule intended for the Games in 2020 would remain the same next year. Bach believes this is important for the athletes who needed to prepare for an extra 12 months in a difficult time.
“First of all, I would like to congratulate the many Olympic athletes and hopefuls around the world very much for their determination and resilience that they are showing in this, for them, extremely difficult period. I can feel with them what it means to prepare for an Olympic Games at the peak of your career in such uncertain circumstances.
“This is why we at the IOC are focusing on the athletes and we have extended all our support programs for one year, for 21. We’re standing at their side. We’re very happy that their preparations are facilitated by the great achievement of the Organizing Committee ensuring that the Olympic Games next year can take place in the same venues and with the same schedules so that they don’t need to change their preparations and, maybe most important of all, that they can look forward to spending time together to experience, to live the Olympic spirit in the Olympic Village,” he said.