LAUSANNE – The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has refused to be drawn into widespread speculation about whether the fast-spreading coronavirus will affect this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo while reiterating that the Games will still go ahead as planned.
Bach told a news conference on Wednesday “neither the word cancellation nor the word postponement was even mentioned” during the second day of the IOC Executive Board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The IOC’s leadership had on Tuesday released a statement expressing its “full commitment” to the success of the Games scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August. But on the same day, Japan’s Olympic minister also claimed the Games could be postponed until later due to the coronavirus outbreak.
When asked how he could be so confident that the Olympics will not be postponed, Bach replied: “Because we talk to the experts. We are a sports organization and we follow the advice of the World Health Organization.” Bach met the WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom and other leading officials last Friday. Meanwhile, a joint task force which was created in mid-February, involving officials from the IOC, Tokyo 2020, the host city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and WHO, has also been working together.
In responding to another question about a deadline for deciding whether to postpone the Tokyo Games, Bach added: “I will not add fuel to the flame of speculation.” But will the position of the IOC change if WHO declares a pandemic? “I will not take part in any way of such kind of mere speculations,” Bach insisted.
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