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Bach confirms no Tokyo Games beyond 2021

Thomas Bach has confirmed that the Tokyo Summer Olympics will be cancelled if they cannot be held in 2021.

In an interview with BBC Sport, the International Olympic Committee president said, “You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations. You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty.”

He added that “you cannot forever employ 3,000, or 5,000, people in an organising committee”.

Questioned on the option of hosting events with no spectators, Bach said,  “This is not what we want.”

“Because the Olympic spirit is about also uniting the fans and this is what makes the games so unique that they’re in an Olympic stadium, all the fans from all over the world are together,” he said.

The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and IOC president Bach agreed to the delay.

Bach last week outlined the cost to the IOC of the postponement. This included an “envelope of up to $800m [€730m]” comprising $650m in costs that the IOC expects to bear and $150m in loans to international federations and national Olympic committees.

Bach’s comments echo those of Tokyo 2020 organising committee president Yoshiro Mori who said last month that 2021 is the only option to stage the rescheduled Games, and that they would be “scrapped” if they cannot take place next year.

Prime Minister Abe said last month that the Olympics would not take place next year unless the Covid-19 pandemic had been contained.

In his BBC interview, Bach said: “We have established one principle: to organise these Games in a safe environment for all the participants. Nobody knows what the world will look like in one year, in two months.”

The revised timetable for the Summer Olympics will see the games start on July 23, 2021 and run until August 8. The Paralympics will run from August 24 until September 5, 2021.

Japanese officials have said the cost of the Olympics rescheduling will be “massive”. The cost has been estimated to approach $3bn. Tokyo 2020 had an official budget of $12.6bn, but national auditing in the country has indicated an actual cost at more than twice that figure. 

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are due to take place February 4-20, 2022, just six months after the Tokyo Games.