the-japan– The International Olympic Committee will cover the cost to vaccinate athletes — who are participating in next summer’s Tokyo Olympics — against the novel coronavirus, IOC President Thomas Bach said as he shared his intentions at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday.
During his first visit to Japan since the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games were postponed due to the global spread of the virus, Bach spoke with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and they both agreed to hold the Games with spectators in attendance.
“If a vaccine should be available, then the IOC would take this cost,” Bach said at the press conference that Yoshiro Mori, chairman of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics organizing committee, and other executives attended on Monday evening.
Bach also said, “A vaccine will not be mandatory for foreign participants at Tokyo 2020.”
Earlier in the day, Bach met with Suga at the Prime Minister’s Office. Suga said, “I am determined to realize the Games as a testament to a victory for humanity over the novel coronavirus, and to showcase to the world the reconstruction of Japanese regions hit hard by the Great East Japan Earthquake.”
Bach responded by saying, “We share the great commitment of the prime minister that the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will happen next year.” He added, “We are determined that a safe Olympic Games will be a symbol of solidarity and unity.”
Suga told Bach that preparations for the Tokyo Games are on track, such as the creation of a system in which foreign athletes participating in international competitions and other events will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine period after arriving in Japan. The system has been in operation since the beginning of this month.
After his meeting with Bach, Suga told reporters that he explained about various studies underway in anticipation of audience participation. “We had an extremely fruitful exchange,” he added.
Bach said he was very confident that spectators would be able to attend the Games.
The IOC president also met with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Monday afternoon when they confirmed their committment to the Games being held successfully.
At the meeting, which was attended by members of the IOC and the organizing committee, Bach revealed his intention to ensure that participants would be vaccinated before they arrive in Japan, if a vaccine was available by then.