News ID: 271449
Published: 1235 GMT July 13, 2020

Olympics must go ahead next year as symbol of overcoming COVID-19: Tokyo governor

Olympics must go ahead next year as symbol of overcoming COVID-19: Tokyo governor

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, often floated as a future Japanese premier, said on Monday the Olympics must go ahead next year as a symbol of world unity in overcoming the novel coronavirus, even as her city grapples with stubborn spikes in cases.

Japan has not seen an explosive coronavirus outbreak as suffered in some other places but a recent increase in cases in Tokyo, which accounts for more than a third of its more-than-20,000 total, has fanned worries about a second wave of infections, Reuters reported.

The 2020 Olympics were scheduled to start this month but were postponed because of the coronavirus. Koike has pledged to win public support for the Games, although a media survey showed a majority think they should be cancelled or postponed again.

“I want to host them as a symbol of the world coming together to overcome this tough situation and of strengthened bonds among humankind,” Koike told Reuters in an online interview.

She declined to specify a deadline for deciding if the Games could go ahead.


‘Easier to cancel’


Meanwhile, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said it would have been easier to cancel Tokyo 2020 instead of postponing the Games to next year.

In an interview with L'Equipe, the German said, "We are there to organize the Games, not to cancel them," reported.

Major issues regarding the Games include securing venues and the Athletes' Village for next year, as well as hotels, transport, ticketing and volunteers.

There are also huge financial considerations with the IOC estimating that the cost to itself will be $650 million (£513 million/€573 million).

"Canceling the Games due to force majeure would have been easier for the IOC and we would have had the insurance revenue," Bach told L'Equipe.

"We have to see if we can make improvements to the master plan, make efforts on the services we offer to participants, on transport...

"The crisis has shown that we need more solidarity in sport but also in society.

"I hope that this will lead to better cooperation between the international federations and the major event organizers."

Last week, reports claimed that Tokyo 2020 was close to securing all of the sporting venues for 2021 but this was downplayed by organizers.

They had previously confirmed that 80 percent of venues were in place, with the Athletes' Village, which is due to be sold as housing, and the Tokyo Big Sight, the location of the main press center and international broadcasting center, proving to be particular stumbling blocks.

Some have suggested that a vaccine must be developed for the Games to go ahead safely.




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