The Tokyo Olympics must go on, a senior International Olympics Committee executive said Friday.
John Coates, the IOC vice president in charge of the Tokyo Olympics, said the Games would open even if the city and other parts of Japan were under a state of emergency because of COVID-19. Coates said the Games would go on even if Japan’s local medical experts advised against holding the Olympics.
“The advice we have from the (World Health Organization) and all other scientific and medical advice that we have, is that — all the measures we have outlined, all of those measures that we are undertaking, are satisfactory and will ensure a safe and secure Games in terms of health,” Coates said. “And that’s the case whether there is a state of emergency or not.”
Other IOC officials have previously set an end-of-June deadline for a decision on continuing with the Games, which are set to start on July 23. If the Games do not take place, they will be canceled instead of postponed, as they were in 2020.
Japanese opinion polls indicate the populance is largely against against opening the Olympics on July 23. Japan is still largely unvaccinated, with just an estimated 2% undergoing the treatment.
Tokyo, Osaka and several other prefectures are currently under a state of emergency caused by an increase in pandemic cases. Emergency measures are scheduled to end on May 31, but they are likely to be extended.
The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will not have attendance from international travelers. Tokyo organizers made the decision along with the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the national and local governments in Japan.
Officials said today they would meet in April to discuss how many spectators already in Japan would be allowed into Olympic venues.
The foreign travelers bar means the organizers will have to provide refunds of an estimated 600,000 tickets to the Olympics and 30,000 tickets to the Paralympic games, which start in August.
Tokyo organizers previously said that 7.8 million tickets would be made available. Reports indicate anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent of Olympics tickets are purchased by international spectators. Beyond that, the influx of tourists boosts hotel room occupancy, restaurants, transportation and other services in the country.