* “Vaccine and athlete preparation make this year different”
* Wide-ranging commitment to put delayed Games on
* 2021 event will look different with COVID-19 restrictions
By Mitch Phillips and and Tim Hart
The Japanese government denied a newspaper report on Friday quoting an unnamed official as saying the Games would have to be cancelled with much of Japan under a state of emergency because of COVID-19 infections, and Coe said everyone was still working towards a successful hosting.
“The government in Japan, the organising committee, the municipality and then the other key stakeholders – the international federations and particularly the athletes – are all unified in their determination to try to deliver a Games that is safe and secure,” Coe, a double Olympic gold medallist, told Reuters in an interview. “It’s a challenge but it’s the challenge that at this very moment all the key players are actually up for an that’s why I have a confidence, with the insights as an international Federation – the number one Olympic sport – can bring to bear on that.”
The Games were postponed from the summer of 2020 last March following the start of the pandemic. But Coe said two big differences almost a year on left him confident they would go ahead as scheduled from July 23.
“Firstly, there is the vaccine and we were a long way away from even thinking about that at this stage last year,” he said. “It is being rolled out and over the next few months it will increase in its availability.
“I know that at this stage (last year) athletes were beginning to find it really difficult to maintain their training regimes and that competitions were beginning to slide off the radar screen. Now they are having greater access both to training and competitions – we’ve already had competitions indoors in athletics this season,” he said.
“So, at this moment, there is an absolute cast-iron determination to deliver the Games but to deliver them in a safe and secure environment,” he said. (Reporting by Mitch Phillips and Tim Hart, editing by Timothy Heritage)