London, July 17 (Jiji Press)–International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Friday hinted at the possibility of reducing the number of spectators at competition venues in the Tokyo Summer Olympics, postponed by one year to 2021 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“This is of course one of the scenarios we have to look into,” he told a press conference held after an online IOC session on the day. But he also said whether competition venues will have less spectators should depend on the levels of travel restrictions related to the pandemic.
“It’s too early to tell,” Bach said, adding, “It’s not what we want.” He said: “We would like to see a stadium full of enthusiastic fans, and to give them all the opportunity to live for the Olympic experience and to support the athletes. And this is the first line what we are working for.”
To prevent coronavirus infection and reduce costs, the IOC and the Tokyo organizing committee for the Olympics are considering scaling down the games on over 200 issues.
On the opening ceremony for the games, Bach said that it is the opportunity for Japan to present its “culture” and “hospitality.” With more than one billion people around the world expected to watch the games, including through television, “I’m sure that the organizing committee will find the right balance,” Bach said.
Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo organizing committee, earlier indicated that the IOC is reluctant to downsize the opening ceremony partly due to its contract with a broadcaster.
At the press conference, a reporter cited a recent survey showing that a majority of Japanese people are against the Olympics being held in Japan next year as it is not known when the coronavirus pandemic will subside.
Bach rebutted by saying that Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who is in favor of holding the Olympic Games, was overwhelmingly re-elected in a gubernatorial poll for the Japanese capital earlier this month. Candidates who called for the games to be postponed or canceled attracted only limited support from voters in the election, Bach noted.
At the latest IOC session, the first since a decision on the one-year postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games was made in March, Japanese officials, including Mori, reported that they will likely be able to secure all of the planned competition venues and Olympic village.
At the online session, Bach showed his intention to run in next year’s IOC presidential election to seek a second term.
“If you, the IOC members, want, I am ready to run for a second term as IOC president and to continue to serve you and this Olympic Movement,” he said. If he is re-elected, Bach’s second term will run for four years. He was first elected IOC president in the September 2013 session of the committee.