IOC says speculating on Tokyo Olympics is damaging athletes

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A man walks by an electric monitor promoting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics planned to start in the summer of 2021, in Tokyo, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

GENEVA – IOC president Thomas Bach hit back at continuing speculation about if the Tokyo Olympics may be canceled or postponed again, saying Wednesday that such talk is damaging for the thousands of athletes preparing to take part this year.

The International Olympic Committee and organizers in Japan have repeatedly insisted there is no Plan B for the Tokyo Games, which were already postponed by one year during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, Japan’s government quickly and firmly dismissed a report that it had concluded the games would have be canceled. However, talk about whether the games can go ahead refuses to go away.

“All these speculations are hurting the athletes in their preparations,” Bach said after a monthly meeting of the IOC executive board.

The Tokyo Games are scheduled to open on July 23, with 11,000 athletes competing in 33 sports. A total of 61% of entry places — more than 6,700 — have been earned and confirmed, the IOC said.

Bach noted that athletes don't need more distractions as they already have “to overcome the challenges in their daily training and competitions with all the restrictions they are facing.”

“We want not to destroy any Olympic dream of any athlete,” the IOC leader said, noting that not even scientists can know the global health situation in six months' time. “For all these reasons we are not losing our time and energy on speculations."

The Times of London’s report last week quoted an anonymous senior official in Japan suggesting the country could focus on hosting in 2032. That’s the next available Summer Games after Paris hosts in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028.