With global Covid-19 cases only recently starting to fall from their highest level, and with just 59 days to go to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the safety of participants is a matter of urgent global concern.
In his address to the SportAccord IF (International Federation) Forum, to which Host City was invited, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “Just like the athletes who are preparing for these Games with so much concentration and focus, we are also getting ready for this final sprint. In this final stretch our top priority continues to remain on organising a safe and secure Olympic Games for everyone – the athletes and all participants as well as our gracious hosts, the Japanese people.
“This is why, together with all our Japanese partners and friends, we have put in place comprehensive Covid-19 countermeasures to ensure the athletes of the world can come together in a safe environment for everyone.”
He referred to the recently updated Playbooks, which outline the responsibilities of all Games participants and the rules that must be followed.
“The Playbooks have been developed based on science, taking into account the latest medical expertise – and also built on experience from all of you, the IFs, who since last year have collectively organised more than 120 World Cups and World Championships with the participation of cumulatively more than 51,000 athletes.
“In doing so, you have demonstrated that sports competitions can be organised safely, even under current restrictions. This is why I’d like to thank all of you for leading the way in this respect. Your collective experience gives all of us confidence in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, because you gave proof that large international sports events can be organised successfully whilst safeguarding the health of everyone.
“And you accomplished this without having access to vaccination, from which we can greatly benefit at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
Bach highlighted offers from three vaccine producers to the IOC for Games participants. At least 70 per cent athletes and officials will be vaccinated before the Games, he said.
“We can only encourage all of you to continue these efforts, because vaccination is not only about protecting yourselves and protecting your athletes – it’s also a demonstration of respect and solidarity with our Japanese hosts.
“This is why I would like to say thank you to all of you for demonstrating in a great way that, whether in sport or in the many challenges of life, we are always stronger together.
“This is the lesson we have learned from the coronavirus crisis. We need more solidarity within societies and among societies. This lesson also applies to sports and sports organisations.”
The post-coronavirus world
“One thing is clear: the post-coronavirus world will need sport and its values,” said Bach. “The important role of sport in society is acknowledged in the meantime by the international community, from the UN to the WHO, the EU and many more. Numerous studies confirm the contribution of sport to promote physical and mental health, education, social inclusion, gender equality and many more.
“As countries round the world are starting the long journey of recovery, this IF forum sends an important message: sport and athletes everywhere are ready to contribute to rebuild a more human-centred and inclusive society.
“We at the IOC are happy to have such reliable partnerships with each of you, as we face not only the many challenges of this crisis but also, and even more, the opportunities it presents.
“So let us seize these opportunities, as we are used to in sport – giving it our best and embracing change. In this Olympic spirit I wish you fruitful discussions and an excellent IF forum.”