The IOC stands firm in the Tokyo Games despite concerns about the coronavirus
LAUSANE: The International Olympic Committee ( IOC ) on Tuesday gave unequivocal support to the summer of this Tokyo Olympics , urging athletes to prepare at full steam despite the threat of coronavirus
"We are preparing for a successful Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020," IOC head Thomas Bach said at an executive board meeting to discuss the July 24-Aug. 9 sporting extravaganza.
Earlier on Tuesday, Japan's Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto had said that details within Tokyo's contract with the IOC "could be interpreted as allowing a postponement" until the end of the year.
That host city contract states that one of several triggers which would allow the IOC to withdraw the Games from Tokyo would be if "the Games are not celebrated during the year 2020".
Hashimoto said, however, that Japan's government and Tokyo were still committed to the Games beginning on July 24, and the IOC has repeatedly swatted aside any suggestions of a postponement.
The Olympic body said again on Tuesday that there was no Plan B, and that the Games would be held at their assigned time.
Any change in dates would wreak havoc instantly on most sports programs, with competition calendars planned several years ago to accommodate Tokyo schedules.
Finding a new date in 2020 at this stage, which would first need the green light from the IOC , would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the 33 sports federations present in Tokyo.
Bach, a 66-year-old lawyer and former Olympic fencing champion, has an iron grip on IOC decision-making and is known for sticking to his guns in adversity.
Me gustaría animar a todos los atletas a continuar su preparación para los Tokyo Olympics 2020 con gran confianza y entusiasmo, dijo el alemán a los periodistas en Lausana. De nuestro lado, continuaremos apoyando a los atletas y los Comités Olímpicos Nacionales.
Multiple sporting events around the world were canceled during the epidemic, which killed more than 3,000 people in China and spread to more than 60 nations, including Japan, where infections are close to 1,000 and 12 people have died.
The crowds will be smaller and the receptions were discarded at the Tokyo 2020 torch lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia, Greece, next week when the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) introduced measures to protect against the coronavirus, he said Tuesday.
Despite concerns about possible health risks for spectators and participants in the Games, the Olympic body is not willing to publicly discuss any other option, such as cancellation or postponement.
"No," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said when asked if the Olympic body had discussed possible options if the situation deteriorates.
There is no ban on international travel and all the advice we are receiving is that the Games can and will continue, Adams said. At this precise moment, we expect the Games to begin on July 24.
The IOC board said a joint task force had been created two weeks ago, involving the IOC , the Tokyo Games organisers, the city, the government, and the World Health Organisation to help deal with the coronavirus ahead of the Olympics.
"The IOC EB appreciates and supports the measures being taken, which constitute an important part of Tokyo's plans to host safe and secure Games," the task force said in a statement.
When asked if he was comfortable with American athletes traveling to the Games, US President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday that he would defer to Japan, adding that it would be something very sad given Tokyo's investment in places for the Games. .
Trump said US officials were evaluating new measures to restrict international travel to other critical points of the virus, including Japan, but a decision had not yet been made.
Tokyo has contributed more than $ 12 billion to organize the event, while billions more were spent on related projects.
The organizers of the Tokyo Games will deliver a video conference report to the executive board on Wednesday.