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IOC begins sketching safeguards for 2021 Olympics

Organizers look to balance spirit with safety for 2021 Games.

The Tokyo Olympics may still be 13 months away, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already begun planning its health and safety measures for the rescheduled Games.

“We are working for a solution which on the one hand is safeguarding the health of all the participants and on the other hand is also reflecting the Olympic spirit,” IOC president Thomas Bach told BBC Sport.

The Tokyo Games were originally scheduled to run through late July and early August this summer, but were put on pause as the coronavirus gripped the globe earlier this year. While races such as the Tour de France were able to shuffle back by two months, the Olympics had to postpone a full 12 months, to July 2021.

With the curve of the pandemic looking to take a downturn before seeing concerning spikes in the Americas in past months, the IOC is far from certain of what the world may look like next summer, and so is mapping out “all different countermeasures.”

Bach and the IOC are fully committed to ensuring safety at next summer’s Games, which is expected to draw athletes from as many as 200 countries and regions.

“For this reason, we are working on multiple scenarios, as we don’t know the health situation one year from now,” Bach said Wednesday.

While little can be predicted for an event 12 months down the line, one thing that Bach is certain about is that he wants the Games to be open to spectators rather than going “behind closed doors,” saying that such action “is clearly something we don’t want.”

It is believed that postponing by one year cost the IOC as much as $6 billion, dwarfing the reported $800 million that the body had saved as a contingency for such an action.

The IOC previously stated that if the Games are postponed again, they would be canceled altogether  – meaning next summer is make-or-break for the event. Bach confirmed his determination to make the Games happen, saying “we remain fully committed to celebrating Tokyo 2020 next year in July and August.”

Further details of Bach’s plans are to be shared in a full IOC video conference Friday.