The Tokyo Olympics officially begin after a one-year delay, and the International Olympic Committee says organizers have done everything they can to ensure safe play as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
“Everything that can be done, everything that was recommended by all these experts – some of them are here with us to provide these games – we have done,” said Christophe Dubi, the IOC Olympic Games Executive Director.
He responded to criticism the organization used”cheap measuresand had not listened to advice. Dubi told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Friday that the IOC received help from many experts around the world and “diligently followed through” all measures recommended.
“I think we’re doing just the right thing, and we don’t think it’s cheap at all,” he said.
Challenges at the Olympics
In addition to Covid-19, the postponed 2020 Games are also haunted by scandals and oddities, ranging from being fired after sexist comments to a bear roaming near a softball stadium.
Reuters reported that 11 athletes have tested positive for the coronavirus since July 2, while Olympic-related infections, including officials and media, stand at 106.
World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told organizers on Wednesday that they did their best and said the aim is not to have zero Covid cases during the competitions.
“The sign of success is to ensure that all cases are identified, isolated, tracked and cared for as quickly as possible, and that further transmission is interrupted,” Tedros said.
Dubi of the IOC said organizers have done so in recent days and will continue to do so.
Looking to the future, including the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, he said the IOC has learned how to create safe conditions, but the situation is “very fluid” and will continue to evolve.
“We have to be prepared for the worst and plan for the worst,” he said. He added that there is “no discussion at all” about the postponement.
The show must go on?
Earlier this week, Toshiro Muto, head of the organizing committee of the Tokyo Olympics, did not rule out canceling the event if Covid-19 cases increase.
But Kirsten Holmes, a professor who focuses on events and tourism at Curtin University, said it would be “very difficult” for organizers to cancel the games.
She said the Tokyo Games will be logistically more difficult than normal games, and flexibility is needed. “But I think it’s very unlikely that … the entire games will be stopped,” she said.
“We may see individual competitions postponed or perhaps canceled if all participants are unable to participate,” she told CNBC’s Street Signs Asia on Friday.
With no spectators or international visitors, Holmes said the games will be all about the athletes, some of whom may only have one chance to compete at this level.
“For the organizing committee it’s very difficult for them not to go through, and therefore … we will see the event go ahead in the coming weeks and of course the Paralympic Games next month,” she said.
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