The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said the Olympics would take place in July despite the declaration of a state of emergency in Tokyo due to the increase in Covid-19 cases.
Public opinion in Japan has also turned strongly against the Olympics, but Bach was optimistic on Thursday. “We have, at the moment, no reason to believe that the Tokyo Olympics will not open on July 23 at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium,” he said. “This is why there is no Plan B and this is why we are fully committed to making these Games safe and successful.”
He hinted at the possibility of reducing the number of spectators, saying the IOC must be flexible and may have to make sacrifices to protect the lives of those involved. “The priority is safety. When it comes to security, there can be no taboos, ”Bach told Kyodo News in Japan.
Bach’s optimism has been criticized by sports marketing leader Robert Maes, whose experience of working with 30 National Olympic Committees and five global sponsors makes him deeply skeptical of hosting the Games.
“I represent a significant number of NOCs and organize training camps for athletes and teams, and I think it is foolish to organize an Olympics here,” said Maes. “I consider myself to be a good organizer of sporting events and have participated in Formula 1 events, athletics and football events, but I don’t see how the Olympics can play out in the current climate. .
“In Japan, we have an explosive increase in virus cases and their severity, and due to lack of testing, the real numbers are surely underreported. A large majority of the public say they don’t want the Olympics. Test events should be canceled. A lot of people I talk to are increasingly skeptical. They won’t say it publicly, but it’s true.
“There is also total silence here on the part of all the sponsors. No activation, no maintenance, because if they are visible in the support, they could take a huge backlash if everything goes wrong in July.
“I’m known in the industry for having a big mouth, but there comes a time when reality should set in. Basically, the CIO and [the Tokyo organisers] now make a Donald Trump and ignore reality.
Bach previously acknowledged that the IOC’s finances were under pressure due to the one-year delay – the organization making 73% of its revenue from the sale of broadcast rights. In Tokyo, that could represent $ 2-3 billion (£ 1.46-2.2 billion) in lost revenue if the Games were canceled.