Thomas Bach says IOC will back Tokyo 2020 ‘without reservation’ on overseas fans

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Thomas Bach says the International Olympic Committee will support Tokyo Games organisers “without reservation” on the subject of letting overseas spectators into Japan this summer.

A decision on whether or not the coronavirus pandemic should preclude international fans from attending is expected on March 25, the president of the local organising committee Seiko Hashimoto said earlier this month.

Bach, who was re-elected unopposed as IOC president for a second term on Wednesday, was asked whether his organisation had requested that an exception be made to allow in guests of Games sponsors.

He did not directly answer whether such a request had been made, but said: “We are standing shoulder to shoulder with our Japanese partners and friends, and we are supporting them without any reservation.”

The second day of the 137th IOC Session, taking place virtually because of the pandemic, is scheduled to hear a report from the organising committee and the chair of the co-ordination commission John Coates.

Hashimoto said earlier this month that she wanted a decision to have been made regarding international spectators by March 25.

“It’s not about whether it’s difficult or not (to have overseas spectators), it’s whether it would link to the safety and security of the Games for Japanese citizens. That is the priority.

Seiko Hashimoto said a decision on overseas fans will be made by March 25
Seiko Hashimoto said a decision on overseas fans will be made by March 25 (Kimimasa Mayama/AP)

A further decision on venue capacity limits is to be taken at the end of April, using current domestic capacity limits as a base.

Currently, that stands at 5,000 or 50 per cent of capacity in Tokyo, whichever is lower. The state of emergency due to Covid-19 in the Japanese capital was extended by two weeks last Friday.

Bach, 67, will now serve as IOC president until 2025 after his re-election having succeeded Jacques Rogge in 2013.

As well as the difficulties surrounding the staging of the Tokyo Games because of the pandemic, there have been calls to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics next year amid abuses against the Uighur Muslim population.

There has also been criticism of the decision to afford preferred bidder status to Brisbane for the 2032 Games, despite other countries having also previously expressed an interesting in hosting.

Bach told delegates: “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this overwhelming vote of confidence and trust.

“For me this is even more overwhelming considering the many reforms and difficult decisions we have had to take and which affected all of us.

The Olympic rings in Tokyo
The Olympic rings in Tokyo (Jae C. Hong/AP)

“When you elected me for the first time in 2013 I said that I wanted to lead the IOC according to my campaign motto ‘Unity In Diversity’ and be a president for all of you and all our stakeholders. This commitment is also true for my second, and last, term.

“My door, my ears and my heart remain open for each and every one of you and I hope I can count on your continued dedication, support and friendship in these four years.”

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