Bach expects ‘reasonable’ crowd at Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo, Nov 16 (efe-epa).- International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Monday said he was confident that a “reasonable” number of people would attend the Tokyo Olympics next year thanks to the likely development of an anti-Covid vaccine and safety measures by the organizers.

Bach addressed a press conference in Tokyo along with officials of the organizing committee, after holding the first in a series of review meetings, set to last until Wednesday, to discuss the preparations for the next summer Games.

“We have made this visit to demonstrate here in Tokyo our full commitment and determination to celebrate (the Olympics) in nine months,” the IOC president said, calling the event “the light at the end of the tunnel” after the pandemic.

He said the event would be made possible with the experience of organizing large-scale sports events in Japan and other countries despite the coronavirus.

Bach hailed the resumption of major sports leagues in Japan that has allowed access to spectators with restrictions in place, and an international gymnastics meet held on Nov.8

He said it was events like these that instilled in him the confidence that a sizable audience would show up in the stadia during the Olympics.

It was his first Japan visit since March when the Games had to be postponed by a year due to the pandemic.

The IOC president said the likely availability of an anti-Covid vaccine by the summer was another reason to be optimistic about the event July 23-August 8 event.

He added that the IOC would do everything possible to provide access to the antidote and promote its use among athletes and the attendees.

However, he insisted that his organization could not decide if the vaccine would be mandatory for participants, and this decision lay with the organizers.

“We want to convince as many foreign participants as possible to accept a vaccine,” he said.

Bach noted that if a vaccine becomes available in time for the Games next year, the IOC will bear the cost.

“If a vaccine should be available, then the IOC would take this cost, and then we can cooperate with the National Olympic Committees because we see this effort as a sign of respect for our gracious Japanese hosts.”

Regarding the number of spectators allowed to watch the competitions, he said that although everyone would like to have a “full house,” it was too soon to say if there would be limits on the capacity of the stadia.

He added that the organizers would decide at the “right moment” after consulting experts.

Several sports competitions have been held in Japan since June with more and more people in the stands.

The current limit on the number of spectators is around 50 percent of the total capacity. The authorities have raised the limit to 80 percent in some matches on an experimental basis. EFE-EPA


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