IOC president says it’s too early to speculate on fate of 2021 Olympics

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Thursday that he would not "fuel any speculation" that the Tokyo Olympics might not be held in 2021.

In a teleconference with reporters following a meeting of the IOC's executive board, Bach said the IOC is focused on holding the Games, which were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, in 2021 as currently planned.

"We are one year and two months away from the opening of these postponed Olympic Games," he said, when asked if the Tokyo Olympics could be postponed a second time or moved to a different country. "So we should not fuel any speculation on any future developments for now."

The IOC says it is providing financial assistance to the Japanese organizing committee as well as other national bodies that are struggling following the postponement of the Tokyo Games. (Photo: Fabrice Coffrini, AFP via Getty Images)

Yoshio Mori, the president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, told a Japanese news outlet last month that the Games would be canceled if they could not be held beginning on July 23, 2021.

Bach also said Thursday it is "way too early to draw any conclusions" about the importance of a vaccine to the successful staging of the Tokyo Games, or the possibility of hosting the Olympics with limited or no fans at the venues. He said the IOC will continue to lean on the advice of the World Health Organization and monitor any developments with the novel coronavirus in the months to come.

"We have (a) task force to ensure the organization of these Games in a safe environment," he said. "We trust the advice of this task force in every respect."

The postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, which was announced in late March, has created substantial logistical and financial challenges for all of the key parties involved — including the IOC, the Japanese government, national Olympic committees and athletes, who have qualified or are still hoping to earn their spots.

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IOC officials have not indicated the total costs associated with postponing the Games, which, prior to Tokyo, had only not been held in wartime. But Bach said Thursday the IOC will bear up to $650 million of those costs, presumably leaving Japan to shoulder the remainder.

Bach also indicated that the IOC will provide loans of up to $150 million for international federations and national Olympic committees, to help them deal with cash-flow issues related to the postponement of the Games. 

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

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