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International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach appears to have ruled out the Tokyo Games happening without spectators next summer.
The Games were postponed by 12 months in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, but uncertainty still surrounds what the event will look like in 2021 – or even whether it can happen at all – in the absence of a vaccine.
Many sports at professional level have resumed behind closed doors to avoid the sort of mass gatherings which can lead to increased transmission of the virus.
Asked whether this was an option for Tokyo 2020, Bach said: “(Our planning) includes all different countermeasures, but no, an Olympic Games behind closed doors is clearly something we do not want.
“So we are working for a solution which on the one hand is safeguarding the health of all the participants and on the other hand is also reflecting the Olympic spirit.”
A recent poll found more than 50 per cent of Tokyo residents were in favour of a further postponement, or even cancelling the Games altogether, but the IOC remains committed to the event starting on July 23, 2021.
It was announced on Wednesday that the 2022 Youth Olympics in Dakar were being postponed until 2026, subject to ratification at Friday’s IOC Session.
Bach said the decision had been taken to assist the international sports federations, national Olympic committees and the IOC itself, which would otherwise have been facing five Olympic events in a three-year period in which all are facing unprecedented financial constraints.
— IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) July 15, 2020
However, he ruled out the possibility of pushing Tokyo back into the next cycle as Dakar had been.
“The situation of the Youth Olympics can in no way be compared to the situation in Tokyo,” the German said.
“The major concern for Dakar was this proliferation of five Olympic events in three years which made it almost impossible for the international federations.
“This is totally different and cannot be compared in any way. We are and we remain fully committed to celebrate Tokyo 2020 next year in July and August.”
The IOC announced a further 150 million US dollars (just under £120m) in financial assistance to national Olympic committees hit hard by the postponement of the Games would be paid by the end of the year.