Olympics will go ahead even under a state of emergency – IOC

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This summer’s Olympics will go ahead even if Tokyo remains in a state of a emergency, says International Olympic Committee vice-president John Coates.

With coronavirus cases rising in Japan, there have been growing concerns about the Games taking place.

Tokyo is one of nine prefectures in the country under a state of emergency until at least 31 May.

“We’ve successfully seen five sports hold their test events during the state of emergency,” Coates said.

“All of the plans that we have in place to protect the safety and security of athletes and the people of Japan are based around the worst possible circumstances, so the answer [to whether the Games could take place during a state of emergency] is absolutely yes.

“The advice we have got from the World Health Organisation and all of the scientific advice, is that all the measures we have outlined in the playbook, all those measures are satisfactory to ensure a safe and secure Games in terms of health, and that’s whether there is a state of emergency or not.”

Recent polls in Japan have shown nearly 70% of the population do not want the Olympics, which starts on 23 July, to go ahead.

Japan has long insisted there was no question the Games, which should have taken place last summer, would be held and will be safe.

Asked about the negative opinion polls, Coates added: “There may well be a correlation between some of these percentages and the low percentages so far of people in Japan who have been vaccinated.

“I’m expecting that as the number of vaccinations increase that there will be better polls and public opinion will improve, but if it doesn’t we just have to make sure that we get on with our job and our job is make sure these Games are safe for all participants and all of the people of Japan.”

Analysis

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, Tokyo correspondent

It appears pretty clear from what John Coates said that any cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics is not going to come from the International Olympic Committee.

Tokyo is currently under a state of emergency because of a large rise in Covid infections. The Japanese government has begun vaccinating the elderly – but so far only about 5% have received a first dose.

There is now very little time to vaccinate Japan’s 36 million pensioners before the Games open on 23 July.

BBC

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