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Olympics official sees 'real problems' in holding Games in 2021

22 May 2020, MVT 12:26
The logo for the Tokyo 2020 torch relay is pictured as the Olympic flame goes on display at the Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium in Iwaki in Fukushima prefecture on March 25, 2020, the day after the historic decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. - Japan on March 25 started the unprecedented task of reorganising the Tokyo Olympics after the historic decision to postpone the world's biggest sporting event due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that has locked down one third of the planet. PHOTO: PHILIP FONG / AFP
22 May 2020, MVT 12:26

A senior Olympics official has warned that holding the postponed Tokyo Games next year faces "real problems", with even a vaccine unlikely to stave off the threat of the coronavirus.

John Coates, the International Olympic Committee's pointman for Tokyo 2020, indicated that officials would start deciding in October if and how the pandemic-hit Games could go ahead in July 2021.

He told a roundtable organised by Australian media giant News Corp that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been clear the Tokyo Olympics could not be delayed a second time.

"We can't postpone it again and we have to assume that there won't be a vaccine or, if there is a vaccine, it won't be sufficient to share around the world," he said.

Without the safety net of a widely available vaccine, there could be enormous challenges in screening tens of thousands of people from all corners of the world, he said.

"We've got real problems because we've got athletes having to come from 206 different nations," said Coates.

"We've got 11,000 athletes coming, 5,000 technical officials and coaches, 20,000 media, we've got 4,000 working on the organising committee there at the moment, there will be 60,000 volunteers coming," he said.

"There's a lot of people."

Coates said if there are signs the pandemic is contained, even if not eradicated, by October, officials will start preparing "the different scenarios by which the sport could take place".

"Do we quarantine the Olympic village? Do all athletes when they get there go into quarantine? Do we restrict having spectators at the venues? Do we separate the athletes from the mixed zone where the media are?"

Sydney, Australia | AFP

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