No postponement of Tokyo Games beyond 2021, says Olympics chief

In this March 30, 2020, file photo, a man jogs past the Olympic rings in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
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Updated 21 May 2020

No postponement of Tokyo Games beyond 2021, says Olympics chief

TOKYO: Olympics chief Thomas Bach agreed that 2021 was the “last option” for holding the delayed Tokyo Games on Thursday, stressing that postponement cannot go on forever.

Bach said he backed Japan’s stance that the Games will have to be canceled if the coronavirus pandemic is not  under control by next year.

In March, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed to July 23, 2021 over the coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands around the world and halted international sport and travel.

“Quite frankly, I have some understanding for (Japan’s position) because you cannot forever employ 3,000, or 5,000, people in an organizing committee,” Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, told the BBC.

“You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide for all the major federations.

“You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty, you cannot have so much overlapping with a future Olympic Games.”

The IOC leader said it was a “mammoth task” to reorganize the Olympics, which have never been canceled outside of the world wars.

However, Japanese officials have been clear that they have no intention of postponing the Games again beyond next year.

Bach warned that “nobody knows” how the situation will play out, but said the IOC will act on advice from the World Health Organization.

“We have established one principle, and this is to organize these Games in a safe environment for all the participants,” he said.

“Nobody knows what the world will look like in one year and two months from today, so we have to rely on (the experts).”

Bach wouldn’t say whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but was lukewarm on the idea of holding them without fans.

“This is not what we want,” he said. “Because the Olympic spirit is about also uniting the fans and this is what makes the Games so unique that they’re in an Olympic stadium, all the fans from all over the world are together.

“But when it then would come to the decision... I would ask you to give me some more time for consultation with the athletes, with the World Health Organization, with the Japanese partners.”

The IOC has already set aside $800 million to help organizers and sports federations meet the extra costs of a postponed Olympics.

According to the latest budget, the Games were due to cost $12.6 billion, shared between the organizing committee, the government of Japan and Tokyo city.

But Bach said there should be “no taboo” in cutting costs for next year’s Games.

“They will definitely be different, and they have to be different,” he said. “If we all have learned something during this crisis, (it is) to look to the essentials and not so much on the nice-to-have things.

“So this concentration on the essentials should be reflected in the organisation of these Games ... there should be no taboo.”


Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian Grand Prix

Updated 04 July 2020

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian Grand Prix

  • The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by .012 seconds

SPIELBERG, Austria: Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on Saturday to take pole position for Formula One’s season-opening Austrian Grand Prix.
The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by .012 seconds at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in third place and Lando Norris giving McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here.
Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.
Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.
Ferrari struggled for speed, with Charles Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.
Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.
Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.
Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.