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IOC president: 2020 Olympics will be canceled if they can't take place next summer

IOC president: 2020 Olympics will be canceled if they can't take place next summer
© Clive Rose/Getty Images

The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Japanese officials have made clear that the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo will have to be canceled if officials can't successfully organize the competition for summer 2021.

In an interview with BBC Sport, Thomas Bach said he understood the Japanese position, explaining that the massive amount of workers and athletes planning to travel to Tokyo for the games could not be left with uncertain plans forever.

"Quite frankly, I have some understanding for this, because you cannot forever employ 3,000, or 5,000, people in an Organizing Committee," Bach told the BBC. "You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations. You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty."

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Pushing the games beyond summer 2021 would risk overlap with the 2022 Winter Games, which are now set to begin just six months after the Summer Games conclude.

"You cannot have so much overlapping with a future Olympic Games, so I have some understanding for this approach by our Japanese partners," Bach added.

Bach went on to stress that the IOC still planned to host the games in the summer of 2021, adding that all necessary public health procedures would be implemented should a vaccine for the coronavirus not be widely distributed by then.

"We have to be prepared for different scenarios. There is the clear commitment to having these games in July next year," he said.

"At the same time, [we are] looking at the scenarios this may require towards the organization, with regard to health measures, these maybe need quarantine for the athletes, for part of the athletes, for other participants," Bach added.

The IOC came under public pressure earlier this year as officials initially resisted rescheduling the quadrennial sporting event due to the coronavirus pandemic. Numerous organizations called on the IOC to reconsider before the final decision was made.