International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach admitted that if the rescheduled Tokyo Summer Olympics can’t be held next summer, then it will be canceled, via BBC Sport.
The Summer Games, originally scheduled for July 2020 was pushed back one year to July 23, 2021 by the IOC because of the COVID-19 outbreak — a process that Bach admitted was a “mammoth task.”
While the benchmark event of the summer was postponed for the first time ever, there was a hope that a Summer Olympics in 2021 would have provided a “unique” experience while sending “a message of solidarity among the entire world, coming for the first time together again, and celebrating the triumph over coronavirus.”
But consistent forecasts predict that a vaccine might not be available to the masses by next summer, creating risks for the nearly 11,000 athletes expected to participate in the Games.
Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, echoed those sentiments, saying it would be “difficult” to hold the Games in 2021 without a vaccine.
It also creates a very tangible possibility that the Olympics would take place without fans in attendance, an idea that Bach and the IOC would have to mull over when deciding if the Games are still a go.
One of the largest concerns after the health and safety of the athletes, though, would be compensating the employees of the Olympics’ organizing committee for another year if it were to be postponed again.
“You cannot forever employ 3,000 to 5,000 people in an organizing committee,” Bach said (h/t BBC Sport). “You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations. You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty.”
On top of that, the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China are set to be held roughly six months after the rescheduled Summer Games in Tokyo. For the Japanese Prime Minister, that makes 2021 the last option for a rescheduled Summer Games.
“You cannot have so much overlapping with a future Olympic Games,” Bach said. “So I have some understanding for this approach by our Japanese partners.”