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No Olympic postponement beyond 2021: IOC chief Thomas Bach

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said yesterday that 2021 was the "last option" for holding the delayed Tokyo Games, stressing that postponement cannot go on forever.

Bach told the BBC that he agreed with Japan's stance that the Games will have to be cancelled if the Covid-19 pandemic isn't under control by next year.

In March, the Tokyo Games were postponed to July 23, 2021 as the coronavirus spread across the globe, killing hundreds of thousands and making international sport impossible.

"Quite frankly, I have some understanding for (Japan's position) because you cannot forever employ 3,000 or 5,000 people in an organising committee," said Bach.

"You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide for all the major federations.

"You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty, you cannot have so much overlapping with a future Olympic Games."

The Olympics have never been cancelled outside of the world wars, but Japanese officials have been clear that they have no intention of postponing the Games again beyond next year.

Bach warned that "nobody knows" how the situation will play out, but said the IOC will act on advice from the World Health Organisation.

"We have established one principle, and this is to organise these Games in a safe environment for all the participants," he said. "Nobody knows what the world will look like in one year and two months from today, so we have to rely on (the experts)."

He wouldn't say whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but was lukewarm on the idea of holding them without fans.

The IOC has already set aside US$800 million (S$1.1 billion) to help organisers and sports federations meet the extra costs of a postponed Olympics.

According to the latest budget, the Games were due to cost US$12.6b, shared between the organising committee, the government of Japan and Tokyo city.

But Bach said there should be "no taboo" in cutting costs for next year's Games.

"They will definitely be different, and they have to be different," he said.

"If we all have learned something during this crisis, (it is) to look to the essentials and not so much on the nice-to-have things." - AFP

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