With the Olympic Games set to kick off at the end of July, preparations for the Games are beginning in all sports, not just in swimming. In this series, SwimSwam looks at some of the leading news from outside of swimming as athletes around the world continue to prepare and qualify for the rescheduled Olympic Games which are due to begin in Tokyo on July 23rd, and Paralympic Games, which are scheduled to begin August 24th.
Bach Admits ‘We Did Not Know How Complex This Would Be’
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has admitted that the IOC ‘did not realise how complex it would be’ to run the postponed Olympic Games this year.
Speaking during the committee’s 138th session on July 20th, Bach said:
“We faced a choice: cancellation or postponement. There was nothing in between. … Cancellation would have been the easy way forward. We could have drawn on the insurance that we had at the time and moved on to Paris 2024. But in fact, cancellation was never an option for us. The IOC never abandons the athletes.
“Therefore, we took the unprecedented decision to postpone the Olympic Games. Today, I can admit that we did not know how complex this would be. The only certainty we had was rather than cashing in on the insurance, we would have to invest much more, to make these Olympic Games possible.
“There was no blueprint. Nobody had ever done this before. We could only take this decision because of the full, mutual trust between our Japanese partners and us. In fact, we came to an agreement with then-prime minister Abe Shinzo in a phone call which lasted only about half an hour. This agreement still stands today. … We did it together. We did it for the athletes.”
His statement comes as doubts over the running of the Games are continuing to mount.
This is largely to do with the fact that a number of positive covid-19 tests have been attributed to the Olympic cohort in Japan so far.
71 Games-Related Positive Covid Tests Reported So Far
The exact number of positive Games-related Covid-19 cases as of Tuesday, July 20th is 71 – which can be broken down into seven athletes, four Tokyo 2020 staff, five media personnel, 36 contractors, and 19 officials/coaches.
A proportion of these positive results have occurred upon the individuals arriving in Japan and have already affected certain Olympic teams.
Dr. Brian McCloskey, who chairs an independent panel that advises the IOC on covid-19 measures for the Games, said of the news:
“What we’re seeing is what we expected to see, essentially. If I thought all the tests we did were going to do were going to be negative, then I wouldn’t bother doing the tests in the first place. We do the tests because they are a way of filtering out people who might be developing infections, who might become a risk later, to identify them early. We take them apart from other people, we monitor and look after them and we look after the contacts.
“So it is expected as we go through the different layers of filtering, we see cases coming out. … Each layer of filtering is a reduction in risk for everybody else, and that’s what we expect to see. And the numbers we’re seeing are actually extremely low. They’re probably lower than we expected them to be if anything.”
Missing Ugandan Weightlifter Found in Japan
20-year-old Ugandan weightlifter, Julius Ssekitoleko, has been found in Japan after going missing last week.
He disappeared in the Japanese capital last week after failing to qualify for the Games and reportedly left a note detailing how he did not want to return to Uganda and intended on staying in Japan instead and building a new life.
Ssekitoleko competes internationally in the 56kg weight category and has previously competed at the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
Opening Ceremony Composer Resigns After Past Bullying Resurfaces
Tokyo 2020’s chief composer for the Olympic opening ceremony, Keigo Oyamada, has resigned from his post after admitting that he used to bully his classmates that has disabilities in school.
The musician recently came under fire after two interviews he gave in 1994 and 1995 resurfaced in which he detailed how he used to bully the individuals ‘without any remorse’.
As a result, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has stated they will be removing Oyamada’s contribution to the opening ceremony – of which there are roughly four minutes of music.