Olympics chief Thomas Bach revealed “doubts” and “sleepless nights” over the postponed Tokyo Games yesterday as the opening ceremony nears after a year’s delay and coronavirus chaos that has made them deeply unpopular with the Japanese public.
Bach, speaking at the International Olympic Committee session in Tokyo, said the unprecedented step of postponing the Games “weighed on me” as it proved more complicated than he thought.
The build-up to Friday’s opening ceremony has been exceptionally rocky, with Tokyo still under a state of emergency and public opinion consistently against the Games, which will be held largely without spectators.
“Over the past 15 months we had to take many decisions on very uncertain grounds. We had doubts every day. We deliberated and discussed. There were sleepless nights,” said Bach.
“This also weighed on us, it weighed on me. But in order to arrive at this day today we had to give confidence, had to show a way out of this crisis,” he added.
Bach has drawn scattered protests during his visit to Japan, where the latest poll in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper showed 55 percent of respondents oppose holding the Games now.
Five people have tested positive in the Olympic Village, heightening fears that the influx of thousands of athletes, officials and media will add to a spike in cases in Japan.
The latest case in the complex, Czech beach volleyball coach Simon Nausch, came a day after one of his players also tested positive.
Olympic and Japanese officials have staunchly defended the Games, which are being held in a strict bio secure “bubble” with daily testing. About 80 percent of athletes have been vaccinated.