International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach believes the Tokyo 2021 Games will provide the “light at the end of the tunnel” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bach also insisted the event has the “full support” of Japanese officials after a report in the Times claimed the country’s government has “privately concluded” the Olympics and Paralympics will have to be called off due to rising coronavirus rates.
Speaking on Friday night, Bach said: “Six months ahead of the Games, the entire Olympic movement is looking forward to the opening ceremony on July 23.
“I had the opportunity today to speak with all the 206 National Olympic Committees of the world and they are all fully committed and looking forward to the Games. We are enjoying the full support of the Japanese government.
“We had another consultation with all the IOC members yesterday and everybody is really determined to make this Olympic Games the light at the end of the tunnel, in which at this moment we are all still in.
“The athletes will enter the Olympic Stadium on July 23 with full pride and sending an important message, not only to the world of sport, but to the entire world a message of resilience, of Olympic passion and Olympic values, like solidarity and peace.”
Earlier, the IOC issued a statement in which it referenced the response of the Japanese government in describing the Times report as “categorically untrue”, adding: “The IOC is fully concentrated on and committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year.”
There is mounting uncertainty over the Games with coronavirus rates growing worldwide and much of the wider Tokyo region having been plunged into a state of emergency earlier this month.
But Bach added: “We are working to prepare for all the potential scenarios we may face.
“We are putting together a huge toolbox of measures and then we will decide at the appropriate time which of the tools we need to address the situation.
“This goes from immigration rules, to quarantine rules, over to social distancing in the Olympic village, to the question of rapid testing, to the question of vaccination, and the question of spectators, and how life in the Olympic Village will be organised.
“It is a really huge undertaking but we are very much encouraged in this that big sporting events, even world championships, are happening and are being organised in a safe and secure way, even without the access to any kind of vaccination.
“Everybody can rest assured our first priority is a safe and secure Olympic Games.”