Promises that they will be “the Games that conquered COVID.”

If everything had gone according to plan, the Tokyo Olympics would have ended almost a month ago, with athletes now back in their home countries and making the media rounds to bask in the glory of medals won and records broken. But like pretty much every event that was on the calendar in 2020, things didn’t turn as originally hoped for, and in late March the decision was made to postpone the Games until 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Between slow progress on a vaccine and the massive challenge of eventually distributing one to the 200-plus nations and territories planning to send athletes to Tokyo, though, some are wondering if even 2021 is a feasible target. But one person whose confidence in the new Olympics’ time frame is International Olympic Committee vice president John Coates, even as he doesn’t sound confident about the disease actually being under control by then.

“[The Olympics] will take place with or without COVID,” said Coates in an interview with AFP. “The Games will start on July 23 next year.”

Again, Coates’ certainty that the Olympics will take place in 2021 doesn’t seem to be linked to a belief that the disease will be contained or a vaccine available by then. If anything, he almost sounds like he relishes the opportunity for the Tokyo Olympics to be taking place during the adversity of a worldwide health crisis. “The Games were going to be, their theme, the Reconstruction Games after the devastation of the tsunami,” Coates continued, declaring that now they will be “the Games that conquered COVID [and] the light at the end of the tunnel.”

▼ Is…is that the Olympics?

Brave words from the IOC exec, and if all it took to prevent the spread of the virus was a positive attitude, the Tokyo Olympics would be all set. That’s not the case, though, and reactions on Japanese Twitter to Coates bold declaration show that many aren’t too keen about Japan’s capital becoming the world’s biggest international travel destination regardless of whether or not COVID-19 infections are under control, with comments including:

“Uh yeah, about that…”
“Seriously? ‘With or without’ coronavirus?”
“’The games that conquered’ the pandemic? What’s that even supposed to mean?”
“I’d like him to pull his head out of his butt. Is the IOC OK with setting off another outbreak just so they can make a profit?”
“What happened to putting the athletes’ safety first?”
“It’ll be hard on hospitals if a lot of new people get infected, but I also feel bad for the athletes who have been training their whole lives to compete at the Olympics. I’d be OK with them holding it without spectators in the stands.”
“Looks like the game of chicken where the IOC and Tokyo ee how long they can put off cancelling the games isn’t over yet.”

One factor Coates’ comments don’t address is how participating nations and athletes will feel about his “with or without COVID” plan if the latter scenario turns out to be the case. Even before the Olympics were postponed, the Canadian and Australian teams had both made the decision to not travel to Tokyo were held this summer.

For now, though, Coates says the IOC is sticking to its schedule, echoing the headstrong way even the delayed event will still officially be called the “2020 Summer Olympics” despite not taking in that year.

Sources: Bloomberg, Yahoo! Sports, Twitter
Top image: Pakutaso/Wikipedia/17jiangz1 (edited by SoraNews24)
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