IOC hopes well being plans will sway opinion with Video games 100 days away By Reuters


© Reuters. The Olympic rings are pictured in front of the IOC headquarters in Lausanne

By Karolos Grohmann

(Reuters) – While most of Japan’s residents continue to oppose the Tokyo Games in 100 days, the International Olympic Committee is hoping the sentiment will change as people realize the importance of minimizing the risk of COVID-19 -Infections has been placed.

John Coates, the IOC’s primary coordinator for Tokyo, also said stories of Japan’s sporting success, such as Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters triumph on Sunday, would increase support for the games, which have been postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

Just over three months before the opening ceremony, the organizers are faced with a barrage of challenges. The pandemic is affecting decisions from the safety of athletes, to attendance numbers, to ticket sales and public support for the Olympics on the ground.

A poll by Kyodo News this week found that more than 70% of people in Japan would like the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled or postponed.

Tokyo embarked on a month-long period of quasi-emergency response to mitigate a fourth wave of infections on Monday, and more than 90% of respondents were concerned about the resurgence.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said at a 100-day ceremony on Wednesday that fighting “an invisible enemy” had been a great ordeal for humanity, but that she was determined to make the event a success.

Coates said in a media conference that there was still time to get the public to support the Olympics and that overcoming negative perceptions of the Games was nothing new to the IOC.

“As soon as these stories are published, I am very confident that public opinion will change,” said Coates. “Sydney (2000 Olympics) didn’t look too good before, but by the time we got to 100 days it turned.”

However, Tokyo will be like no other Olympics.

Any game participant will miss the usual celebratory atmosphere throughout the city and in their competitions, while the tests will be extensive.

International spectators were banned and the IOC had to shorten its invitation list to only important people for the games. The organizers still have to decide what to do with the home audience.

“The athletes will still compete in the best of conditions,” said Coates. “There will be no overseas spectators or family members to support them. They will be confined to the village and its sports venues.

“They are not going to go downtown to celebrate. That will be missing (at the Olympics),” he said.

These measures are all part of a detailed plan that the organizers have worked out to ensure that the Games are not postponed or canceled, and the people of Japan should have no doubt about the IOC’s focus on minimizing the risk of infection, said Coates.

With some experts concerned that Tokyo is about to take an “explosive” leap on COVID-19 cases, Coates was asked if there were any thoughts of canceling the games.

“No way. I know Japanese organizers are not considering a cancellation,” he said.

“We continue to have full support. All plans are worst-case and we hope to be able to influence public opinion through security measures.”

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