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Tokyo 2020 officials prioritise athlete welfare ahead of Olympics

The Tokyo 2020 Athletes’ Village must be the safest place in the city during next year’s Olympics, says International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) John Coates & Thomas Bach.

The senior officials from the IOC made the statement yesterday (November 18) as part of a meeting with the organisers of the rescheduled Olympics that were postponed in March 2020 and due to take place from July 23, 2021.

Thomas Bach, the IOC president, alongside other officials, have visited Tokyo this week to be a part of the organisation of the Games, made continually difficult by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The purpose-built Athletes’ Village will be descended upon by over 11,000 people during the Olympics, with thousands more expected in the Paralympics that follows. Organisers are preparing for a world still suffering from the virus, leading to questions being asked about the safety of athletes in a Village full with others from around the globe.

Coates, one of the officials who joined Bach in the Japanese capital said: “We have to make sure that the Olympic Village is... the safest place in Tokyo.

“The athletes have to have confidence in the safety of that.”

One of the measures already confirmed is that athletes will not be able to stay in the Village for the entire duration of the Games, outside of the events that they are competing in.

“The athletes, once their competition finishes, will have one day, two days and then they will go home,” Coates added. “The period of staying longer, in a village, increases the potential for problems.”

Other measures are yet to have been confirmed by organisers, including whether spectators will be welcomed into the venues. It is expected that more countermeasures for the virus will be finalised before the budget announcement next month, according to Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto.

However, news of a potential Covid-19 vaccination will be of welcome news to organisers in being able to allow for a safe Olympics to take place and is encouraging that a further delay to the games is less likely to occur.

President Bach said: "In order to protect the Japanese people, and out of respect for the Japanese people, the IOC will undertake great effort so that Olympic participants and visitors will arrive here vaccinated if, by then, a vaccine is available.”

Author: Jake Wilkin