Tokyo 2021 #1YearToGo

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World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has claimed Olympic sports need to do more to convince a sceptical Japanese public that Tokyo 2020 can be held safely despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coe said the volume of work that had been done by International Federations across the Tokyo 2020 programme "seems to be the best kept secret" in the host country amid low public support for the Games going ahead as planned.

While a recent survey by Japanese daily newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun revealed half of respondents are in favour of holding the Olympics and Paralympics in some form, other polls have shown the public is largely in favour of cancellation.

Coe, speaking during the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations General Assembly today, suggested communicating the amount of work that has been done on the COVID-19 countermeasures and the strict rules for participants in the "playbooks" for the Games would help sway opinion in organisers' favour.

"I think it is really important in the lead-up to the Games - and it probably if we’re being honest should have been done earlier - that there needs to be a far greater recognition of the work that has been undertaken," the British two-time Olympic champion, who has twice visited Tokyo since the pandemic hit, said.

"I cannot in my lifetime think of another event of any kind that has had so much forethought put in to the safety of all those involved.

"And yet I, like many of my colleagues, am spending an inordinate amount of time in front of the media making the point that these Games can be delivered safely.

"We must get this message across that these are not 10,000 athletes all descending on a city without forethought or a plan, and the systems in place are there not just to protect athletes but their communities.

"That would go some way to at least making some of the research polling that we wake up to each morning a little more benign."

Organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), of which Coe is a member, have faced criticism for continuing to push ahead with the Games despite the pandemic, with some calling for the event to be cancelled.

The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have insisted the Games will be "safe and secure" because of the measures that are set to be in place to protect participants and the public, which includes banning all attendees from bars and restaurants, restricting the amount of time athletes spend in the Village and frequent testing.

Concerns have also been raised over the low vaccination rate in Japan, although IOC President Thomas Bach has claimed at least 80 per cent of people inside the Tokyo 2020 Athletes' Village will have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in time for the Games.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, with the Paralympics due to follow between August 24 and September 5.

Source: https://www.insidethegames.biz