IOC say Olympics will go ahead despite Tokyo state of emergency being extended

IOC’s comments overshadowed by a protester at their online press conference

An ignition ceremony for the Tokyo Olympic at Heiwadai Athletic Stadium in Fukuoka, on Tuesday. Photograph: Kyodo News/AP

An ignition ceremony for the Tokyo Olympic at Heiwadai Athletic Stadium in Fukuoka, on Tuesday. Photograph: Kyodo News/AP

 

The International Olympic Committee has insisted it is “moving fully ahead” with the Tokyo Games despite growing public unease in Japan after the state of emergency in the country was extended.

But the IOC’s upbeat comments, which followed a meeting of its executive board on Wednesday, were overshadowed by a protester who gatecrashed its online press conference to shout: “No Olympics anywhere. F**k the Olympics. We don’t want the Olympics. No Olympics in LA. No Olympics in Tokyo.”

The demonstrator, who had told the IOC that he worked for Yahoo! but was later revealed to be part of the NOlympics LA movement, was quickly shut down and a video of the press conference was promptly removed by the IOC.

Earlier an IOC spokesperson, Mark Adams, had repeatedly stressed the Olympics, which are due to start in 78 days’ time, would go ahead despite a slew of recent negative headlines.

Japan has recorded more than 600,000 coronavirus cases and more than 10,500 deaths – the highest in east Asia. On Saturday it reported more than 7,000 infections – the highest since January.

There are also concerns given that only abouttwo per cent of Japan’s 126 million people have received at least one vaccine dose since its rollout began in mid-February, while hospitals are struggling to secure beds for newly diagnosed people.

Adams said a number of test events had been held safely in Japan, and insisted the IOC’s playbooks – which restrict what athletes, media and support staff can do during the Olympics – would make the Olympics safe and secure.

“As things stand, and as we talk to our Japanese partners and friends, we are moving full ahead,” Adams said. “There has been a small extension of the emergency situation, but we continue to plan for full Games – and that’s the way it has to be and that’s the only way it can be for us. And everything is telling us, from the test events to international events, that the Games can go ahead and will go ahead.

“We are now very much in an implementation phase. With 78 days left before the Games we are fully concentrated now in this last implementation phase of delivering an excellent Games which will really bring the world together.”

The IOC president, Thomas Bach, had been expected to attend a torch relay ceremony in Hiroshima on May 17th but that was cancelled because of the state of emergency being extended. An opinion poll this week also found 59 per cent of the Japanese population were against the Games taking place.

Adams said he expected public opinion to shift once the Games, which are set to open on July 23rd, got under way. “In terms of Japan and Tokyo we understand the caution of people and we are fully in solidarity with them,” he said.

“We understand that these are tough times. We understand that people are very cautious. But the test events and the playbooks should give the Japanese people confidence that these Games can be held in a very safe and secure way.” - Guardian

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