Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the IOC session at London’s Royal Opera House, Monday 23 July 2012. (AP Photo / Lefteris Pitarakis)
LONDON – The Tokyo Olympics should be held as there is no major health risk, said Sebastian Coe, President of World Athletics and a member of the International Olympic Committee.
“They’ll keep going and they should keep going,” Coe told CNBC on Thursday.
As Covid cases continue to rise in Japan and many other countries, about 10,500 athletes are preparing to fly to Japan to attend the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
Japanese Emperor Naruhito last week expressed concern about the possible spread of the virus during the Games.
“The emperor is extremely concerned about the current state of coronavirus infections,” said Yasuhiko Nishimura, grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency, at a press conference, according to The Guardian.
“Given public concerns, he appears concerned about whether the event would lead to the spread of infection,” added Nishimura.
However, Coe said he was “not sure if there was a major risk associated with it,” adding that he did not believe that “there has never been an event in the past 40 or 50 years with so much concern about protecting vital assets was laid. in our case the athletes, but above all the protection of the local communities that will host our events. ”
The former Olympic gold medalist, who won four middle-distance gold medals for Great Britain, admitted that if the Games continue, the athletes will not continue.
“There will be no karaoke bars or trips around the Imperial Palace,” he said.
“Unfortunately, when we have athletes who, for whatever reason, test positive after they arrive in Tokyo – because they are tested before and on landing – then we have almost some sort of field hospital proportions to control,” he said.
Around 70% of athletes have only “one chance” of participating in the Olympics in their careers, Coe said, adding that this is an emotional statistic for him at the moment.
He stressed that World Athletics hosted hundreds of events and two world championships over the past year and “none of our events has been a super spreader”.
Japan has so far reported over 800,000 cases of the coronavirus and 14,750 deaths. On Wednesday, new infections in Tokyo rose to 714, the highest number in over a month.
Euro 2020 and Covid cases
As the World Health Organization announced on Thursday, the postponed Euro 2020 football tournament drove the current increase in coronavirus infections in Europe.
The WHO said a ten-week decline in new infections with the coronavirus across the continent has come to an end and a new wave of infections is inevitable as football fans and others ease their vigilance.
New cases in Euro 2020 host cities rose 10% last week as crowds mingled after travel and social restrictions were eased, the WHO said.
“We need to look well beyond the stadiums themselves,” WHO chief emergency officer Catherine Smallwood told reporters.
“We have to look at how people get there, do they travel in big, overcrowded convoys of buses? And when they leave the stadiums they go to overcrowded bars and pubs to see the games,” she added.
“It’s these little continuous events that are driving the spread of the virus,” Smallwood said.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics owns the U.S. broadcast rights to all Summer and Winter Olympics through 2032.