2021 Olympic organizers have expressed optimism that the Games will go on, but one former Olympic organizer has suggested the Olympics are ‘unlikely’ to happen amid the pandemic.
Sir Keith Mills was the Chief Executive for the London 2012 Olympics. In an interview with the BBC this week, Mills said he sees the 2021 Olympics as unlikely to happen with Tokyo currently under a state of emergency in the coronavirus pandemic.
“Personally, sitting here looking at the pandemic around the world, it looks unlikely I have to say,” Mills said in the BBC story. “If I was sitting in the shoes of the organising committee in Tokyo, I would be making plans for a cancellation and I’m sure they have plans for a cancellation. They’ve got another month or so before they need to make a call.”
Mills said he thinks organizers will wait “to absolutely the last minute” to make a cancellation call in the hopes that vaccine rollouts speed up and the pandemic quickly improves.
Back in December, IOC President Thomas Bach said he was “very confident” that the Olympics would happen in 2021. But in early January, Tokyo declared an official state of emergency as coronavirus cases spiked. The IOC reconfirmed its commitment and Tokyo organizers also declared their plans to continue with the Olympics as-scheduled.
But Mills’ comments come as public confidence, in some circles at least, starts to wane on holding the Olympics this summer. Last week, a member of Japan’s cabinet, Taro Kono, said the Olympics “could go either way.” And in two polls by Japanese news agencies, 80% of Japanese residents said the Olympics should be canceled or postponed again.
The Olympics were originally scheduled for the summer of 2020. They’re now scheduled to begin on July 21, 2021 and run through August 8.