Toshiro Muto, the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee chief executive, has admitted that there is no guarantee that the Summer Games will take place in 2021 due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Last month, amid intense global pressure, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese government agreed to push back the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics until next summer. But with the health crisis showing little sign of abating, doubt has been cast on the staging of major sporting events in 2021 as well as this year.
“I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” Muto told reporters. ”We’re certainly are not in a position to give you a clear answer.”
He added: “We have made the decision to postpone the Games by one year. So this means that all we can do is work hard to prepare for the Games. We sincerely hope that come next year mankind will manage to overcome the coronavirus crisis.”
There are currently no alternative arrangements should the health crisis affect the planned staging of the Olympics in 2021.
“Rather than think about alternative plans, we should put in all of our effort,” Muto said. “Mankind should bring together all of its technology and wisdom to work hard so they can development treatments, medicines, and vaccines.”
Muto said it was too early to know the costs of postponing – which has been estimated by Japanese media at anywhere between $2bn-$6bn – and who would bear responsibility for those expenses.
He also revealed that Tokyo Olympic organizers had taken out insurance policies due to the delays.
“Tokyo 2020 has taken out several insurance policies,” he said. “But whether the postponement of the Games qualifies as an event that is covered is not clear yet.”
Meanwhile, USA Swimming has postponed its Olympic trials from June 21-28, 2020, to a new date of June 13-20, 2021. They will remain in Omaha, Nebraska.