New confidence as Olympics boss pushes for Games

Sports | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 17 Nov 2020

Olympic chief Thomas Bach said he is "very, very confident" that spectators will attend next year's Tokyo Olympics, as he kicked off a Japan trip to boost momentum for the pandemic-postponed Games.

Spiralling infections and new lockdowns around the world have renewed skepticism that the massive international event will be possible if the pandemic is not under control by opening day, now scheduled for July 23 next year.

But organizers and Japanese officials have insisted that they can hold the event, and are drawing up coronavirus countermeasures intended to make the Games safe even if the pandemic is not over.

"We are putting a really huge tool box together in which we will put all the different measures we can imagine," Bach said after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for talks that began with the two masked men fist-bumping for the cameras.

"This makes us all very, very confident that we can have spectators in the Olympic stadia next year," added Bach, who heads the International Olympic Committee.

He also pledged that the IOC would make great efforts to make sure as many participants and spectators as possible are vaccinated before arriving in Japan, if a vaccine is available.

Bach, on his first trip to Tokyo since the Games were postponed in March, is hoping to convince athletes, Japanese citizens and Olympics sponsors that the Games can be held safely next year.

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