COVID-19: Tokyo 2020 CEO Hashimoto says Games are 100% on, with 50 days left

Tokyo: The Tokyo Olympics will continue with certainty, the chief organizer said on Thursday, but warned that a major coronavirus outbreak during the Games could slam the fans’ door. The president of Tokyo 2020, Seiko Hashimoto, made the remarks exactly 50 days before the Olympic Games postponed with the pandemic plagued by the public opposition. “I believe the possibility of these Games going on is 100 per cent that we will do it,” Hashimoto told BBC Sport, adding that fans could be ruled out during the Games. “The biggest challenge is how we can control and manage the flow of people,” she said. “Should there be an outbreak during the Games that amounts to a crisis or an emergency, then I believe we should be prepared to hold these Games without spectators.” Overseas fans have already been banned, and a decision to allow domestic spectators is expected after Tokyo’s coronavirus state of emergency ends on June 20. Despite the ongoing uncertainty, the organizers marked 50 days after the opening ceremony of July 23 by announcing the medal ceremonies, including podiums with recycled plastic. They also released the victory music for the gold medal winners. “We have 50 days left. I feel like I can hear the sound of the athletes’ footsteps to Tokyo, ”Hashimoto said during the ceremony in the Ariake Arena, a Games Room. “We are completely ready and prepared for the prevention of infections, so feel free to come to Japan,” she added. “And to feel safe in Japan to welcome you, I ask you, all the athletes, to be responsible with your actions, to follow the rules.”

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10,000 volunteers quit

Japan had a smaller Covid-19 outbreak than many countries, with just over 13,000 deaths. About three percent of the population is fully vaccinated. But organizers face persistent domestic opposition, with about 80 percent of people in national polls supporting a further delay or cancellation. Hashimoto told the Japanese Nikkan Sports earlier daily that postponement is not an option, and that a cancellation is virtually unthinkable. “If different countries around the world are experiencing very serious situations and delegations from most countries cannot come, we will not be able to keep it,” she said. “But conversely, unless such a situation arises, the Games will not be canceled.” Organizers on Thursday confirmed that about 10,000 of the 80,000 Games volunteers have quit – according to Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto, much about the coronavirus problems, as well as scheduling or other logistical reasons. Some also stepped out in protest of sexist remarks by Hashimoto’s predecessor, who was forced to resign in February after saying women talk too much in meetings. The organizers said the reduction in volunteers would not affect the Games because the event was scaled back. In addition to the ban on non-domestic supporters, the number of overseas officials and participants has been reduced by about half to about 78,000, calling for further reduction. Olympic officials want to build positive momentum as the Games approach, with Australia’s softball team becoming the first athletes to arrive in Japan this week.