Games will go ahead in 2021 “At any cost”

Tokyo, Japan

2 minute read
Words Benedict Tufnell
Photography Steve McArthur
Published 15.09.20

Japan’s Olympic minister, Seiko Hashimoto, told the Japan Times last week the Tokyo Olympics should go forward in 2021 “at any cost.” His sentiment is shared by many Japanese and International Olympic Committee officials, who have stressed in the past two weeks that the games will proceed regardless of the global pandemic.

“I think we have to hold the games at any cost,” Hashimoto said in a news conference. “I want to concentrate all our efforts on measures against the coronavirus.”

According to NPR, IOC Vice President John Coates told Agence France-Presse in early September that “these will be the Games that conquered COVID, the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“It will take place with or without COVID. The Games will start on July 23 next year,” Coates said.

NPR reported that Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Muto said last week that the games would take place even if a vaccine were not yet available. 

“A vaccine is not a requirement,” Muto said in a report by The Associated Press. “Of course, if vaccines are developed we’ll really appreciate it.”

A review into how to protect athletes and other attendees from the coronavirus at the Tokyo Games is ongoing. A task force organized by Tokyo 2020 had its first meeting last Friday looking at coordinating efforts against the virus. NPR reported the meeting highlighted many issues that would need to be addressed should the pandemic still be active next July. Testing regimes, rules of behavior in the Olympic Village, rules for spectating, and contingency plans in the event of an outbreak among athletes are all yet to be decided. 

NPR say there is some evidence of reluctance among the Japanese public towards holding The Games next summer. A survey from Kyodo News found fewer than 1 in 4 people in Japan want the Tokyo Olympics to go forward as scheduled. More than a third of those surveyed believe they should be postponed, and another third wanted to see the games canceled.