International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach and vice-president John Coates were the target of social media anger in Japan on Monday over their insistence that the rearranged Tokyo Games should take place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Coates on Friday had said “absolutely yes” that the Games should go on from July 23 even if host city Tokyo remained in a state of emergency.
And Bach’s comments reportedly made to a meeting of the international hockey federation (FIH) that “some sacrifices” were needed were also not readily accepted by many in Japan, whose population is firmly against the Games taking place according to recent polls, reports DPA.
The IOC on Monday said Bach was not referring to sacrifices from the Japanese population but rather “everyone in the Olympic community”.
This was needed to keep the sporting aspect of a toned-down Games alive so “the athletes can fulfil their Olympic dreams,” Bach was quoted by the IOC.
Local organisers insist the Games can go ahead safely despite Japan fighting a fourth wave of the pandemic and Tokyo being continually placed in states of emergency — the latest extending to the end of this month.
Foreign fans will not be permitted to attend the Games, which were delayed from last year, while the numbers attending from federations, sponsors and media have been cut.
Late last month, the Tokyo Olympic Games orgainising committee had said it had prepared for the possibility of holding the event without spectators.
“If the situation is expected to cause problems for the medical system, in order to put the highest priority on safety and security, there may come a time when we have to decide to go ahead with no spectators,” Seiko Hashimoto, the organising committee president, had said in April.