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IOC boss: Olympics might be canceled if not held in 2021

Bach says it's too early to make the decision, but admitted that rescheduling the Summer Games for 2022 is not possible.

The 2020 Olympic Games might be canceled outright if competition cannot be held during rescheduled dates set for 2021.

That’s according to IOC president Thomas Bach, who said costs could become too burdensome for host city Tokyo, now set to run the Games from July 27 to August 8, 2021.

“You cannot forever employ 3,000 to 5,000 people in an organizing committee,” Bach told BBC Sport. “You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty.”

Those comments would come as a blow for Olympic cyclists already forced to make dramatic changes to their racing and training programs. Worsening coronavirus pandemic conditions forced organizers to postpone the Olympic Games for the first time in its history earlier this year.

Athletes across all cycling disciplines put Tokyo 2020 at the center of their racing calendars. The scheduled delay is already impacting racing and training programs going into next year in what’s already been a disrupted season.

Japanese officials had already expressed skepticism about hosting the Games if an effective coronavirus treatment or vaccine is not ready by the summer of 2021. With the 2022 Winter Olympics slated for nearby China, Japanese officials also said they would not consider a further postponement.

Bach stopped short of saying the Games would have to be canceled if there is not a vaccine ready, and hinted that competition might be held “behind closed doors” without fans inside stadiums.

“We have established one principle: to organize these Games in a safe environment for all the participants. Nobody knows what the world will look like in one year, in two months,” said Bach, adding that competition without fans is not the same. “This is not what we want. Because the Olympic spirit is about also uniting the fans and this is what makes the Games so unique that they’re in an Olympic Stadium, all the fans from all over the world are together.”

Bach admitted that an event as “massive” as the Olympic Games is challenging to postpone, not only for organizers, but also for sports federations in terms of qualifying as well as travel and safety concerns in pandemic conditions. Questions about possible quarantines, travel difficulties and other restrictions make it difficult to move quickly.

“You cannot every year change the entire sports schedule worldwide of all the major federations. You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty,” Bach said. “What could this mean for the life in an Olympic Village and so on? All these different scenarios are under consideration and this is why I’m saying it’s a mammoth task, because there are so many different options that it’s not easy to address them [now]. When we have a clear view on how the world will look on 23 July, 2021, then [we will] take the appropriate decisions.”