GENEVA (AP) –
The day after the official postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, IOC President Thomas Bach invoked President Donald Trump’s remarks on Wednesday to defend himself against the critics.
Bach spoke to around 400 reporters on a conference call and was asked why it was so long to postpone the Tokyo Games despite growing concern from athletes. He noted that many governments had not imposed social limits until next month and underscored Trump’s hope to ease the restrictions by mid-April.
“In the past two weeks, measures by many governments have been limited until mid-April, some in early May,” said the president of the International Olympic Committee. “You may have seen President Trump’s latest statements in the United States about the prospect that mid-April can lift many restrictions.”
Last week, Bach and the IOC faced growing criticism from athletes, including Olympic gold medalists, for their public support for hosting the Tokyo Games, as scheduled from July 24 to August. 9. The Canadian Olympic Committee stated before the decision that it would not send a team to Tokyo in 2020.
Even Trump told the White House on March 12 that the Olympics should be postponed for a year.
The final decision of the IOC commission on Tuesday, with the agreement of the Japanese government, to delay until 2021 comes a day after the World Health Organization said that the coronavirus pandemic was accelerating.
A journalist from his native Germany also asked Bach if he had considered resigning because of criticism from the athletes.
“No,” he replied.
The postponement calls for the Tokyo Games to be held no later than the summer of 2021, and Bach was asked about the options if the pandemic continues next year.
“We want and will organize the games only in a safe environment,” he said.
Although an exact postponement of one year to July 23-August. 8 is possible, the Tokyo Games should not open in July.
“All options are on the table,” said Bach, adding that a working group of the IOC and Japanese officials called “Here We Go” is considering new dates.
“This working group can examine the whole situation. It’s not just limited to the summer months, ”said Bach.
The IOC President called for a compromise on all sides as the biggest sporting event of 2020 now lands on the already crowded calendar of 2021. The track and swimming have their world championships scheduled for next year in July and August.
“This postponed Olympic game will need sacrifices,” said Bach.
One problem for the Tokyo organizers is to keep control of the village which will house most of the 11,000 athletes. The sprawling Tokyo Bay site of more than 5,600 apartments will be sold after the Olympics. About 25% were said to have been sold, some costing more than a million dollars.
“This is one of the thousands of issues that this task force will need to address,” said Bach.
A potential problem seems easily resolved. Sponsors whose agreements with the IOC expire this year will continue through the rescheduled matches, which will always be called the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. They include Dow, General Electric and P&G.
“We see their full support for this,” said Bach. “For me, it is a logical consequence that the sponsors … keep their rights even if the games are organized in ’21.”