Bach not planning pre-Olympics visit to Tokyo this month

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach is adament the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead this year. Picture: STUFF SPORTS.

LAUSANNE, 11 JUNE 2021 (INSIDE THE GAMES)—International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has confirmed he will not travel to Japan this month, as had once been suggested.

Bach instead plans to arrive in the host country of the next Olympic Games and IOC Session in the “middle of July”.

July 12 – five days before an IOC Executive Board meeting in Tokyo, eight before the IOC Session and 11  before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics – was previously identified as the likely date for Bach’s pre- Games arrival by IOC vice-president John Coates.

Bach had planned to visit the Olympic Torch Relay when it passed through Hiroshima, as well as meet officials including Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in May.

But the trip was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which saw Japan introduce more stringent restriction and take the Torch Relay off pubic roads in locations including Hiroshima.

A June trip to Japan from the IOC President had since been mooted, but is now firmly off the table.

Bach said today that discussions had taken pace with Tokyo 2020 over “whether it would really make sense to go back and forth” from Japan, given he will be heading to the capital for both the Olympics and the IOC Session next month.

“We came to the conclusion that it would be better that I arrive middle of July to Tokyo, in time for the Games and also all the preceding meetings and visits and organisational issues.”

Quarantine requirements were also cited by Bach as a reason for opting against the visit. The IOC claimed yesterday that the number of athletes set to compete at Tokyo 2020 who have either been vaccinated or are “in the process” of being inoculated is now “over and above 80 per cent”.

It will be hoped that the figure can help to quell fears in the Japan that staging the Games could jeopardise the health situation in the host nation, where the vaccination rate is low and less than 4 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

The final version of the playbooks which outline coronavirus countermeasures stakeholders will be expected to adhere to during the event are due to be published next week, while a decision on whether or not Japanese fans can attend events is expected at the end of June.

The Olympic Opening Ceremony is scheduled for July 23, although the football and softball competitions will begin two days earlier.

More Stories