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International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach speaks during an interview after the historic decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games due to the coronavirus pandemic, in Lausanne, Switzerland, on March 25, 2020.

DENIS BALIBOUSE/AFP/Getty Images

The head of the global Olympic movement said on Wednesday that the rescheduled Tokyo Games faced “thousands” of logistical and financial problems and could go ahead before summer 2021.

Though most people have assumed the Games will be held around roughly the same July-August timetable as they were planned for this year, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said earlier dates in 2021 were possible.

“The agreement is that we want to organise these Games at the latest in the summer 2021,” he told a conference call.

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“This is not restricted just to the summer months. All the options are on the table including the summer 2021.”

The IOC agreed with Japan on Tuesday to the first postponement in the Olympics’ 124-year history due to risks from the coronavirus impact.

It was the last major international sporting event of 2020 to be cancelled, with many questioning why a seemingly inevitable decision took so long to make as the coronavirus epidemic raged around the world.

Athletes were sad but largely relieved, given disruption to their training. The decision was a huge blow to Japan, which has invested $12 billion in the run-up, and presents a massive headache to reorganise logistics, funding and sponsorship.

Bach said he could not guarantee all elements of the Games would remain as initially planned. For example, he did not know what would happen with the athletes’ village, where apartments were set to be sold after the Games this year.

“This is one of the many thousands of questions this task force will have to address. We hope and we will do whatever we can so that there is an Olympic village, the village is where the heart of the Games beat,” he said.

“WONDERFUL GAMES” PROMISED

“Our mission is to organise Games and make dreams of athletes come true,” he added. “We have no blueprint but we are confident we can put a beautiful jigsaw puzzle together and in the end have wonderful Olympic Games.”

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Bach, a 66-year-old German lawyer and former Olympic fencing champion, also said that outright cancellation was discussed, even though the IOC had long insisted that was not an option.

The only times the Olympics have been cancelled were during World War One and World War Two.

“Of course cancellation was discussed and considered like all options on the table, but it was very clear from the beginning that cancellation should not be something the IOC would in any way favour,” Bach said.

The IOC is due to start talks from Thursday with other global sporting bodies as moving the gigantic Olympics event has a knock-on effect for many other competitions.

Postponement has been a blow to the prestige of the IOC and Bach, who has been criticised by some athletes and national Olympic committees for not reacting sooner given the fast-spreading health crisis.

“We are in an unprecedented situation. I guess these postponed Olympic Games will need sacrifices, will need compromises by all stakeholders,” he added.

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