IOC: 2021 last option for Tokyo Games

May 22, 2020
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Thomas Bach
World Health Organization (WHO) shows WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (L) presenting a t-shirt to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach prior to signing a cooperation agreement on promoting healthy society through sport and on contributing to the prevention of non-communicable diseases on May 16, 2020 at the WHO headquarters in Geneva. Olympic chief Thomas Bach called for vigilance and patience in preparations for the Tokyo Summer Games, postponed a year until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Christopher Black / World Health Organization / AFP

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

Bach told the BBC that he agreed with Japan’s stance that the Games will have to be canceled if the coronavirus pandemic isn’t under control by next year.

In March, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed to July 23, 2021 as the coronavirus spread across the globe, killing hundreds of thousands of people and making international sport impossible.

“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,” the International Olympic Committee president said.

“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 overlapped with a future Olympic Games.”

The Olympics have never been canceled outside of the world wars, but Japanese officials have been clear that they have no intention of postponing the Games again beyond next year.