The International Olympic Committee (IOC) kicked off a crucial executive board meeting on Tuesday to discuss the threat of the coronavirus to this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, with president Thomas Bach pledging success.
“We are all healthy and looking forward to the meeting,” a smiling Bach told reporters on arrival at IOC headquarters.
“We are preparing for a successful Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” he then told fellow executives at the meeting.
The 66-year-old German lawyer and former Olympic fencing champion has a firm grip on IOC decision-making and is known for sticking to his guns in adversity.
Both Tokyo 2020 Olympics organisers and the IOC have repeatedly stressed that the July 24-August 9 Games will go ahead as planned despite the outbreak, and that there is no plan B.
However, multiple sports events around the world have been cancelled during the epidemic, which has killed more than 3 000 people in China and spread to more than 60 nations including Japan where infections are near 1 000 and 12 people have died.
And Japan’s Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto acknowledged in parliament on Tuesday that Tokyo’s contract would allow for a postponement until the end of the year.
With the IOC eager to project an image of business as usual, however, Bach said Tuesday’s meeting would also look at proposals for its Tokyo session prior to the Olympics’ opening.
Despite concerns over possible health risks to spectators and participants, the Olympic body is unwilling to publicly discuss any other option, such as cancellation or postponement, knowing that would throw the Games into confusion.
Tokyo has pumped in more than $12 billion to organise the event while billions more were spent on related projects.
“I will not speculate about the Tokyo Olympics,” IOC Vice President Anita DeFrantz said repeatedly on her arrival.
Tokyo Games organisers are due to deliver a report via video conference to the executive board on Wednesday when the Games will be discussed, before a news conference by Bach.