Track Cycling

Top Story Replay – Tokyo 2020 President: ‘We are in a very tense situation’ – Around the Rings

(ATR) The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers begin releasing the second versions of ‘playbooks’ as presidents Thomas Bach and Hashimoto Seiko attempt to assuage any concerns about the Games moving forward.

Tokyo is under a state of emergency until May 11. (Tokyo 2020/Uta MUKUO)

The release of the updated playbooks, outlining further guidelines for athletes and Olympic stakeholders, come as a Five-Party Meeting between Tokyo 2020, the IOC, International Paralympic Committee, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Government of Japan was held virtually on Wednesday.

The meeting occurred as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 925 new coronavirus cases, from 7,942 tests conducted on April 27, a rise of 97 positives from previous day. It is the largest figure for Tokyo since January 28.

Hashimoto addressed the escalating health situation and state of emergency declaration in the Japanese capital with just 86 days left until the opening ceremony.

“We are in a very tense situation that we did not expect in the previous five-party meeting,” Hashimoto said, during a virtual news conference on Wednesday.

“In view of the COVID-19 countermeasures in place, of course we must not obstruct the delivery of the medical services, together with the people, citizens, overseas athletes and other stakeholders, for everybody health must be protected – that is the grand premise,” Hashimoto said, asked about how the crisis could affect a final decision regarding spectators at the Games.

Hashimoto Seiko (Tokyo 2020)

As Tokyo organizers, government authorities and health experts continue to work towards difficult decisions dictated by the pandemic, Bach expressed his utmost support for the IOC’s Japanese partners, while noting it is “a critical time for Japan”.

“We fully understand the decision by the Japanese government and the request of TMG to declare a state of emergency at this moment,” Bach said, in opening remarks at the five-party meeting.

“We have great, great respect for the diligence of the Japanese authorities to protect the Japanese people.

“The Olympic community all over the globe is with Japan and thinking of the Japanese people being affected by the pandemic.”

Hashimoto said that a final determination about venue spectator capacities will come in June, if not late May.

“We must observe the situation as it evolves, as of now a full stadium is a tall order,” said Hashimoto, a seven-time Olympian in speed skating and track cycling.

An upcoming FINA organized diving event is planned to move forward with some international competitors, yet without spectators. An athletics test event in Tokyo Olympic Stadium will also be held without spectators.

“Bearing in mind the situation, we need to communicate, not only the conclusion this time, but to say that we are prepared as the last possible solution to have the Games with no spectators,” Hashimoto said.

Thomas Bach at Olympic Stadium in November. (IOC Media)

Bach, whose expected visit to Japan in May has yet to be finalized, said the country continues to inspire the world in its steadfast preparation for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“This spirit of the Japanese people is greatly admired because this spirit to persevere in times of hardship and the Japanese people have demonstrated this perseverance throughout their history,” Bach said.

“And it is only because of this ability of the Japanese people to overcome adversity that these Olympic Games, under these very difficult circumstances, are possible.

“It is exactly this admiration for this spirit, what makes the people and governments around the globe trusting so much the Japanese people and looking forward with so much anticipation to these Olympic Games.”

Bach suggested even more stringent countermeasures could be implemented over the final months leading to the Games, which open on July 23.

“We inform and promise from the side of the Olympic Movement, that if the situation should require, we are also ready to take even stricter measures together with you, standing side-by-side with the Japanese people and Japanese authorities to deliver these Olympic Games safely and successfully for everybody.”

“If the Games are delivered successfully, everybody will be a winner.” Hashimoto said.

Written and reported by Brian Pinelli

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