LONDON, January 13: Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England said on Wednesday he was confident the Tokyo Olympics would go ahead this year even if they would be different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are hugely confident of the Games going ahead in the summer,” he told Reuters after announcing the selection of four shooting competitors.
“We certainly wouldn’t be announcing athletes if that wasn’t the case.”
The Olympics, delayed from last year due to the new coronavirus, are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 but Japan has expanded a state of emergency in the Tokyo area with cases of COVID-19 rising steadily.
England, who sits on an International Olympic Committee (IOC) working group, said the Games would look different with “incredibly comprehensive” health and safety protocols to protect athletes.
A weekend survey by Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed most locals want to cancel or postpone the Games.
Takeshi Niinami, CEO of beverage giant Suntory Holdings and an economic adviser to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, told Reuters he was unsure whether the Olympics could be held as planned.
England said he based his confidence on much more than just “a vibe”.
“The Prime Minister of Japan overnight has commented that the Games will go ahead, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) are very confident in their planning for the Games to go ahead,” he said.
“There is nothing that we are hearing today that suggests the Games won’t go ahead. We are full steam ahead, planning to embark on Japan from the middle of July and that is our focus of attention.” (Reuters)