Olympic Chief Bach Consults With IOC Members Over Virus Fallout

    (AFP) — Olympic chief Thomas Bach yesterday held a series of talks with International Olympic Committee (IOC) members on the potential consequences of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the Tokyo Games which have been pushed back a year to 2021, sources said.

    Bach was scheduled to address the 100 IOC members in three different sessions, which were grouped according to language and local time zone.

    Bach’s aim is to canvas the members for their views on “how to handle the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic”, a source told AFP.

    The IOC president wants to hear “thoughts, ideas and experiences of all members across the globe”, it added.

    While Bach addressed all Olympic actors on March 24 when announcing the postponement of the Tokyo Games, it is the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak that he has specifically consulted IOC members.

    Bach was backed up by Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi, IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell, IOC Director General Christophe De Kepper, and Chief Operating Officer Lana Haddad.

    The IOC’s medical and scientific director, Richard Budgett, also took to the floor to discuss “the issue of a vaccine”, according to a second source.

    Bach warned last week that 2021 was the “last option” for holding the delayed Tokyo Games, stressing that postponement cannot go on forever.

    He said he backed Japan’s stance that the Games will have to be cancelled if the coronavirus pandemic isn’t under control by next year.

    The German wouldn’t say, however, whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but was lukewarm on the idea of holding them without fans.

    In March, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were postponed to July 23, 2021 due to the highly contagious nature of the coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of thousands around the world and halted international sport and travel. It was the first peacetime postponement of the Olympics.

    The IOC has already set aside US$800 million to help organisers and sports federations meet the extra costs of a postponed Olympics.

    According to the latest budget, the Games were due to cost US$12.6 billion, shared between the organising committee, the Government of Japan, and Tokyo city.