IOC VP: Tokyo Olympics Will Be “Games That Conquered COVID”

John Coates said the Olympics will go ahead next year regardless of the state of the coronavirus

IOC VP: Tokyo Olympics Will Be “Games That Conquered COVID”
A passenger in a face mask stands next to a poster of Tokyo 2020 Olympic mascot Miraitowa.
AFP via Getty Images

A high-ranking member of the International Olympic Committee said the postponed Tokyo Olympics will go ahead in 2021 regardless of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.

IOC vice president John Coates said the Olympics will start as planned on July 23 of next year “with or without COVID” and that they will come to be known as the “Games that conquered COVID.” 

Medical experts have continuously warned the Olympics are unlikely to be held in 2021 as planned as the pandemic won’t be contained in time. More than 11,000 athletes from around 200 countries were scheduled to take part in the 2020 Games, and it is possible a number of those projected participants will no longer be able to compete in 2021 due to travel restrictions.

Though experts have debated whether it is smart to hold Games without a vaccine, 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said a vaccine is not a prerequisite for the event to go on as planned. “If a vaccine is ready, that will be a benefit, but we’re not saying we can’t hold the event without it —it’s not a precondition,” he said.

A study by the University of Oxford has found the Tokyo Olympics have already passed the 2012 London Games as the most expensive Summer Games in history, and pulling off the event in 2021 will significantly increase their cost.

“The Olympics offer the highest level of risk a city can take on,” said Oxford economist Bent Flyvbjerg. “The trend cannot continue. No city will want to do this because it’s just too expensive, putting themselves into a debt that most cities cannot afford.”

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