'No Olympics anywhere': IOC says it will not bow to pressure to cancel Games after protest

·2-min read
'No Olympics anywhere': IOC says will not bow to pressure to cancel Games after protest - AFP
'No Olympics anywhere': IOC says will not bow to pressure to cancel Games after protest - AFP

The International Olympic Committee insists it will not be driven by public opinion despite a protester crashing a Tokyo Games press conference after sponsors expressed doubts over staging the event during a pandemic.

An otherwise routine IOC press conference with journalists worldwide was pulled from the internet on Wednesday after an interloper posing as a reporter unfurled a banner and shouted: “No Olympics anywhere, f--- the Olympics. We don’t want the Olympics anywhere. No Olympics in LA, No Olympics in Tokyo.”

His outburst came hours after a top executive of Tokyo Olympics sponsor Toyota said officials at the Japanese company felt “conflicted” over the desire to see the Games succeed and public concerns about holding the event during a pandemic.

Less than three months before the opening ceremony on July 23, Japan is battling a surge in coronavirus infections, and surveys suggest a majority of the population wants the Olympics cancelled or postponed for a second time.

“As sponsors, it breaks our heart to see public discontent aimed at athletes,” said Jun Nagata, Toyota operating officer. “To be honest, we are conflicted every day over what the best course of action is.”

Despite growing concern, IOC spokesman Mark Adams remained adamant that Japanese will be proud of the Games once it is delivered in a “safe and secure” manner.

“These are very specific times and very different moments to normal, but there’s always a dip [in public opinion] ahead of the Games,” he said. “We take note of [the surveys], we take note of public opinion and we think that at this stage the Games can go ahead.

“I think you will see when they do go ahead and there is an amazing moment that will be reflected in public opinion in general.

“As with all organisations, we have to pay attention to public opinion but not be totally driven by it.

“When the Games happen and when the Japanese people can be the proud hosts of an event which really will be an historic moment bringing the world together after this terrible time, I’m very confident we will see public opinion hugely in favour of the Games.”

The IOC said four major international test events had taken place in Japan across athletics, diving and volleyball during the past fortnight without any Covid transmission.

“I hope and think they should give Japanese people confidence that these Games can be held in a very safe and secure way,” said Adams.

Last week, the IOC announced a memorandum of understanding with Pfizer and BioNTech had been signed to donate doses of the companies’ vaccine to Games participants from national Olympic and Paralympic committees. These doses will not be taken out of existing programmes, but will be in addition to current quotas and planned deliveries worldwide.

“The large majority of people in the Olympic Village will be vaccinated,” confirmed Adams.

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