International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach says cancelling the Tokyo Olympic Games was never an option for his organization despite the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and that they owed it to the athletes to carry the competition through.
Speaking to Japanese outlet Kyodo News, Bach said that he would “not speculate” on what could happen if the COVID-19 situation worsens during the Olympic Games, with Japan having entered its fourth state of emergency on Monday.
As he’s done many times over the last few months, Bach reaffirmed that calling off the Games entirely was never an option for the IOC.
“We, the IOC, will never abandon the athletes, and with the cancellation, we would have lost a whole generation of athletes,” said Bach. “So therefore, a cancellation for us was not really an option.”
The 67-year-old added that cancelling the Games and receiving the insurance money was the “easiest way” to go at the time (back in March 2020, when the Games were postponed), but instead, the IOC chose to invest more into holding the Games one year later in 2021.
Bach expressed his support for the decision to have no fans at the Olympics due to the state of emergency restrictions, and also said that the Opening Ceremonies will be “very emotional” because it will be the first time since the pandemic began that “you will see the whole word in one place.”
Bach added that it “will send a “strong message of unity and of solidarity during these difficult times from Japan to the entire world.”