IOC President Thomas Bach says there’s no ‘plan B’ for Tokyo Olympics this summer

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Jan. 21 (UPI) — The head of the International Olympic Committee said Thursday that the postponed Summer Games in Tokyo are scheduled to open in July, and there’s no “plan B.”

IOC President Thomas Bach told Kyodo News that there’s no reason to think the Games, still officially called the 2020 Summer Olympics, won’t begin as scheduled on July 23.

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“This is why there is no ‘plan B’ and this is why we are fully committed to make these games safe and successful,” he said.

The Games were supposed to begin on July 24, 2020, but were postponed last March when the COVID-19 pandemic was still emerging worldwide.

The move was the first time any Olympic Games had ever been postponed to a later date. Games in 1916, 1940 and 1944 were interrupted by World War I and World War II, but they were canceled outright.

Although the coronavirus crisis has not disappeared and new variants have been identified, Bach said he’s confident the Games will go on as scheduled this summer. The closing ceremony is scheduled for August 8.

“You cannot compare March 2021 with March 2020,” Bach added. “Because there is such great progress in science, medicine, vaccination and [coronavirus] tests.

“All this was not available in March last year. Nobody knew yet how really to deal with the pandemic, and now we know much more.”

Before the delay, athletes worldwide expressed concern about the safety of the Olympics and numerous qualifying events that lead up to the Summer Games. Thursday, Bach said the world is now better prepared.

At the time the IOC postponed the Games, it decided not to rebrand them as the 2021 Summer Olympics.

Earlier this month, Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori said delaying the Games again would be “absolutely impossible.”

“We are determined to proceed with preparation as planned,” Mori said.

While Bach says he has confidence in what Japan has done to stem COVID-19, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has faced some criticism for his handling of the crisis.

Suga has predicted that the Tokyo Olympics will stand as “proof that humanity defeated the coronavirus.”