London – Dick Pound, a longtime International Olympic Committee member from Canada, hinted the rescheduled Tokyo Games could be in doubt due to the continued spread of the novel coronavirus, the BBC reported Thursday.
“I can’t be certain because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus,” he was quoted as saying.
The report comes after the IOC said it has “full confidence” in the steps being taken by the Tokyo Olympic organizers and remains committed to the games going ahead as scheduled in July despite a state of emergency being declared for the capital on Thursday.
Pound told the BBC he thinks all athletes should be vaccinated as a priority. In November, IOC President Thomas Bach encouraged athletes to get vaccinated before the Tokyo Olympics but insisted it would not be an entry requirement for the games.
Earlier on Thursday, the IOC responded to the state of emergency declared in Tokyo by reiterating the organization’s commitment to the Olympics going ahead as scheduled this summer.
“The IOC has full confidence in the Japanese authorities and the measures they are taking,” it said in a statement released to Kyodo News.
“Together with our Japanese partners, we continue to be fully concentrated and committed to the safe and successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this summer.”
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a month-long state of emergency for the capital and three surrounding prefectures Thursday, the same day Tokyo announced a record 2,447 new coronavirus cases.
It is the second time such a declaration has been made in Japan during the pandemic.
The Olympics, postponed by one year because of the international public health crisis, are due to open on July 23 and the Paralympics on Aug. 24.
In his New Year video message, Bach called Tokyo “still the best prepared Olympic city ever” and thanked Japan for its commitment and determination to organize the games “in a safe and secure way for all the participants” that will fit a post-coronavirus world.
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