After releasing a video statement late last week, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach held a much more in-depth press conference on Wednesday discussing the status of the 2021 Olympic Games, which are now less than six months away.
Bach said in his video statement on Friday that, after all of the speculation regarding the Games potentially getting cancelled surfaced earlier in the week, he received confirmation from all 206 National Olympic Committees that they were fully committed to the Games.
In the press conference on Wednesday, which is nearly an hour long, Bach reiterated that the IOC is solely focused on making the Games happen.
“We are fully concentrated on, and committed to, the successful and safe delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” the 67-year-old said.
Regarding the rumors that a cancellation was imminent, Bach addressed those concerns straight away. The German native noted how organizing an Olympic and Paralympic Games is a daunting task under normal circumstances, and unprecedented during a global pandemic.
“So, there is no blueprint for this, and we are learning every day,” he said. “This fight against the virus – as you all know from your personal circumstances – this fight against the virus is a tough one. But we are fighting this fight for, and like, Olympic athletes. This means, with full determination, with a will to win, with hard work every day and with all the physical and mental strength we can have.
“There, if we have to address the different issues, nobody – nobody – at this moment can predict the health situation in 206 National Olympic Committees for the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games from late July to September this year. Not even the most prominent scientists in this area.”
After addressing the speculations surrounding cancelling the Games and how all that does is have a negative effect on the athletes, Bach also shoots down any idea of changing locations, and reiterates on the focus of delivering the Games successfully.
“There are some proposals to move it to another city, which everybody who knows about the complexity of Olympic Games, is not possible, in such a short period of time,” he said. “So, for all these reasons, we are not losing our time and energy on speculation, but we are fully concentrated on the Opening Ceremony on the 23rd of July this year, so we are not speculating on whether the Games are taking place, we are working on how the Games will take place.
“That means, we have to put Covid countermeasures together for every possible scenario. And in this, we are relying on the advice of all the different authorities there: the Japanese government, the health authorities, the World Health Organization , we are talking with the manufacturers of vaccines, with all the experts. And also from these consultations, we can conclude it is too early to tell which of the many Covid countermeasures will finally be the appropriate one when it comes to the time of the Games.
“We just have to ask for patience, and understanding, and we are asking for this patience, you know, from the athletes, from the National Olympic Committees, the IFs, the Japanese people, the organizing committee; everybody. We have to be patient and diligent in the same way.”
Bach also said that the IOC will be releasing the “so-called playbooks” of the Games, first to the NOCs and Chef de Missions in February, that will outline all of the countermeasures that are being put in place.
“The priority is always the same: safe and secure Games, by everybody,” he said. “And in this we are gaining even more confidence from the effectiveness of the countermeasures which are being applied right now in sports events across the world.”
Bach’s full press conference is available to watch on YouTube below: