TOKYO – Hoping to boost morale in Japan by assuring people that the Tokyo Olympics will be held as scheduled, IOC President Thomas Bach held a conference call limited to three of Japan's main media outlets — newspapers Asahi and Yomiuri, and the Kyodo news agency.
Bach was responding to comments made earlier in the week by IOC member Dick Pound in an interview with The Associated Press. Pound said a decision on the Tokyo Olympics — facing a fast-spreading virus from China — would need to be made by the end of May.
Australian member John Coates, who heads the IOC inspection team for Tokyo, suggested a similar time frame. Both Pound and Coates are former IOC vice presidents.
The Olympics open on July 24, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 25.
The International Olympic Committee provided the AP with a transcript of Thursday's call. The questions have been shortened for length and clarity. The answers are in full.
Bach's opening statement: “The preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are continuing with a view to having successful Olympic Games this summer in Tokyo and to reassure the athletes and to encourage them to go ahead full steam with regard to their training and their preparations for what we expect to be very successful Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
Q: There are so many reports in the Japanese media, especially on the internet, citing Mr. Dick Pound's interview. He set a date and time limit for deciding whether to cancel the games. The word “cancellation” is everywhere now, even in parliament. He also compared the spread of the virus to a wartime situation. Your response, president?