IOC President Thomas Bach Says Olympic Cancellation Is “Not on the Agenda”

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach defended his organization’s handling of a decision regarding the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in an interview with a German television and radio outlet on Saturday.

The 66-year old, who is currently quarantined in his home office in Lausanne, Switzerland on Lake Geneva, Bach acknowledged that there were “no ideal solutions” to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its impact upon athletes’ preparations for the Olympic Games.

Bach, a 1976 Olympic gold medalist in fencing for West Germany, has experience with Olympic conflicts: he was due to compete at the 1980 Olympic Games, which West Germany boycotted along with several other nations, including the United States.

Bach emphatically said that “A cancellation is not on the agenda.”

“Such a denial would be the least fair solution,” Bach said of the decision. “The cancellation would destroy the Olympic dream of 11,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees and the IOC refugee team. You cannot postpone Olympic Games like a soccer game to next Saturday. This is a very complex business, where you can only act responsibly if you have reliable and clear bases for decision-making, and we monitor this every day, 24 hours a day.”

Bach’s plea was for more time and patience for the IOC to make the best decision.

“We have to concentrate on finding a reliable basis for decision-making.”

Among the complications with postponement is that the housing that makes up the current athletes’ village has already been sold. 4,000 units will be sold as condos, and another 1,600 will be rented. With 11,000 athletes, coaches, and officials descending upon the city, finding space to house them without the village is a major complication. Programs like these that push to repurpose Olympic venues and facilities are a big part of the growing sustainability programs as the Games have become a financial anchor around the neck of recent host cities.

For reference, average sales prices per square foot of a Tokyo apartment in 2019 was about $7,800. That’s about 5 times the rate in Manhattan, the United States’ priciest market.

This led Bach to ponder a potential alteration of the vision of a postponed Olympic Games, and how to manage this and other conflicts that would arise.

Bach says that he is working on a solution to the problem. That, in-and-of-itself, is the strongest indication yet from inside the IOC’s leadership that a postponement is a real possibility. To date, the IOC’s messaging has been entirely around sending the Games off in July as scheduled, with only a few contributors to the movement dissenting.

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JohnPaul Napier Spain
3 years ago

The IOC needs to get real, there is no way it will be safe or appropriate for people to travel to Anywhere by the time the games are due to start. Stop procrastinating and say to the world Tokyo 2021.

Reply to  FletchMacFletch
3 years ago

Thank you – provides crystal clear vision! Aint NO WAY the GAMES will be held in TOKYO anytime soon.

3 years ago

Then put it on the agenda. It doesn’t sound that complex.

3 years ago

For all those who read/watched the Harry Potter books/movies; Mr Bach’s conduct & handling of the ongoing COVID-19 issue is pure “Cornelius Fudge. Seemingly unwilling to acknowledge the real world situation outside his own “bubble” (in Bach’s case the Olympic movement) and clinging tenaciously to a position that becomes ever more untenable by the day in a vain attempt to “keep up public morale”. Either that or Mr Gilady (NBC’s own “bought and paid for” IOC honcho) must have some A1 “dirt” on him.

3 years ago

The venues and the games can go on at a later date, but housing the athletes is the issue. As in the article, all the olympic village housing is all ready sold and to be moved in after the games are finished. Money has been paid by the buyers. I see this is more the reason then the physical space of venues. If someone can come up with an idea for housing, then IOC can not have a reason not to postpone the games.

3 years ago

A few swimmers expressed their view point and approach in handling this out of their control event at this time when public health and their own health should be most important and take center stage.

IOC is slow in reacting but it does take time for all the stackholders to come to a decision. Some of the issues layout in this article can’t be resolved as IOC decision alone.

Though athletes are young and fit and not considered high fatality risk, the sickness caused by COVID-19 can still very much keep them out of water for weeks if they got infected (pneumonia, not flu). It is high risk to have them train at the same place (one got sick… Read more »

All about the money
3 years ago

Forget about the mental game on these swimmers. Seems to me he doesn’t care all he sees is the dollar bills instead of the health of our valuable swimmers.

3 years ago

Seems like the Japanese government should use a power akin to eminent domain to keep the village for Olympic use thru a later date. Tough for people who planned to move in, but presumably they already live somewhere, and after investing $40 Billion would be worth it for Japan to preserve their shot at hosting the Olympics.

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
3 years ago

There certainly are lots of cruise ships available these days

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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