The suspended Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead next year “with or without Covid”, the vice-president of the International Olympic Committee says.
According to the news agency AFP, John Coates confirmed that the Olympics would start on 23 July next year, calling it “the Games that conquered Covid-19”.
They were originally scheduled to start in July 2020, but were suspended due to fear of coronavirus.
The IOC had earlier said they would not postpone the Games beyond 2021.
Mr Coates told AFP news agency, “The Games were going to be their theme, the Reconstruction Games after the devastation of the tsunami,” referring to 2011 tsunami and catastrophic earthquake in Japan.
In July, Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said it was possible that the Games be executed to a “limited” audience, but said they wanted to abstain from the possibility of having no spectators at all.
At least 11,000 athletes from around 200 countries were specifically planned to take part in the 2020 Games. It is uncertain how travel restrictions might impact their participation as Japan’s borders are currently mainly closed to foreign visitors.
Mr Muto also said a vaccine was not necessary for the Games, though health experts had cast doubt over whether the Games could be held without a vaccine.
He added, “If a vaccine is ready, that will be a benefit, but we’re not saying we can’t hold the event without it – it’s not a precondition.”
In April, Games chief Yoshiro Mori said the Tokyo Games would have to be annulled if there were not held in 2021.