Thursday , June 1 2023

Dick Pound of the CIO says he is not sure that the Tokyo Olympics will continue


An elderly member of the International Olympic Committee said he “cannot be sure” that the postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo will open in just over six months due to the growing pandemic in Japan and elsewhere.

Canadian IOC member Richard Pound’s comments to British broadcaster BBC came as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding prefectures on Thursday.

“I can’t be sure, because the elephant in the room would be raising the virus,” Pound said of the future of the Tokyo Games.

Japan’s emergency order, which is largely voluntary, will be in effect until the first week of February.

Tokyo reported a record 2,447 new cases on Thursday, a 50 percent increase from the previous day – which was also a record day. Japan attributed more than 3,500 deaths to COVID-19, relatively low for a country of 126 million.

It’s a rough time for Tokyo. Organizers say the Olympics will take place, but do not expect to reveal concrete plans until spring. Around the same time that the torch relay begins on March 25, 10,000 runners crossed the country for four months, leading to the opening ceremony on July 23.

Pound also suggested that athletes should be a high priority for a vaccine, as they serve as “role models”. Pound’s comments seem to contradict CIO President Thomas Bach.

Bach said during a visit to Tokyo in November that athletes should be encouraged to get vaccinated, but not forced. He also indicated that it should not be a priority. Bach said nurses, doctors and health workers should be the first in line for a vaccine, ahead of healthy young athletes.

“Athletes are important role models and, through the administration of the vaccine, can send a strong message that vaccination is not just about personal health, but also about solidarity and consideration for the well-being of others in their communities,” Pound said.

Vaccines could come slowly to Japan

Reports suggest that the launch of the vaccine in Japan is likely to be slowed by the need for local clinical trials. Some vaccines may not be available until May, although Suga said some will be ready in February.

The Japanese public is becoming skeptical. A survey conducted last month by 1,200 people by the national broadcaster NHK showed that 63% favored another postponement or cancellation.

The IOC said that the Olympic Games, delayed for the first time by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, will not be postponed again and will be canceled this time.

The budget for the Tokyo Olympics is also growing. The new official budget is 15.4 billion US dollars, which is 2.8 billion dollars over the previous budget. The new costs are overdue.

Several audits by the Japanese government said the costs were closer to at least US $ 25 billion. The University of Oxford, in a study published four months ago, said that these are the most expensive Summer Olympics on record. This was before the cost of the delay was added.

All Olympic funds, with the exception of $ 6.7 billion, are public money.

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