Tokyo 2020 Chief Mori Warns Games Cannot Be Delayed Again
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshirō Mori has warned the Olympic and Paralympic Games could not be delayed again if the pandemic is still an issue next year.
Mori claimed there is "absolutely no chance" of pushing Tokyo 2020 back again, as reported by Kyodo News.
Following the rise of coronavirus cases around the world, the Olympics and Paralympics were postponed to July 23 to August 8 and August 24 to September 5, 2021, respectively.
There are concerns the pandemic may still impact the Games, however, with Mori quashing claims that this would result in yet another postponement.
"Also thinking about athletes and issues over Games management, it is technically difficult to delay it by two years," he said.
Mori had asked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to consider a two-year postponement when the two met for talks on March 24, as reported by The Asahi Shimbun.
Abe pushed for a one-year delay, with Mori claiming that the Japanese leader had "gambled on 2021".
Richard Pound, the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), also believes 2021 will be the only chance for Tokyo 2020 to take place.
"The Japanese have said we can keep the ball up in the air for a year, but not longer than a year," he said, speaking to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
"We really have to hope that we get this act together in time for 2021."
More than 2.6 million people have now been infected with coronavirus worldwide, resulting in nearly 200,000 deaths.
Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshirō Mutō recently acknowledged the pandemic could impact the Games once again, revealing that he did not "think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not".
Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University, said he is "very pessimistic" about the Games taking place next year, while global public health professor Devi Sridhar also said she believed competition could only go ahead on the new dates if a vaccine for the disease was found in time.
The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have set-up a joint steering committee to deliver the postponed Games.
Key elements of the planning for 2021 are set to replicate the Games delivery plan for 2020.
Focus will be put on venues and the competition schedule, with Tokyo 2020 set to request that each venue owner follow the same schedule as 2020 on the new dates in 2021.
Securing venues is expected to be one of the major early challenges for organisers, as they begin the unprecedented task of planning for a rescheduled Games.
A new road-map for the Games will be established by next month, however, in order to then align resources and priorities accordingly.
Costs are already a key issue, with the IOC forced to backtrack recently after irritating the Japanese Government and Tokyo 2020 by suggesting Abe had agreed to cover additional expenses.