The Head of the Olympics Committee Predicts What the 2021 Games Will Look Like in Tokyo

Olympic Rings in front of Japan Olympic Museum

The head of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, said he is “very confident” that Olympians and fans will be able to attend the games in Tokyo in summer 2021. 

"We are putting really a huge toolbox together in which we will put all the different measures we can imagine," Bach told reporters in Japan this week, according to news agency AFP via The BBC. "This makes us all very, very confident we can have spectators in the Olympic stadium next year."

Athletes and spectators will be strongly encouraged to receive a COVID-19 vaccination before arriving in Tokyo for the games, but inoculation will not be required to attend. Bach said that Olympic participants would not be given priority to a vaccine ahead of front line medical workers.

The IOC is determined to have spectators at all events, although crowd size may be significantly reduced. The IOC has not yet decided if only spectators from certain countries with low rates of COVID-19 will be able to attend the games. Much depends upon the reliability of COVID-19 vaccines, some of which could roll out to the international public over the coming months. 

Bach returned to Japan for the first time last week since the games were postponed eight months ago. He met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Yoshiro Mori, former prime minister and head of the local Olympic organizing committee, The Associated Press reported. 

The games are scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021. They were originally scheduled to take place from July 24 to Aug. 9, 2020. Despite being held a year after planned, the games will still be referred to as “Tokyo 2020.” 

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More than 15,400 athletes are due to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic games, and tens of thousands more coaches, judges, reporters and fans will pour into the Olympic village to watch. 

Both Bach and Japan's Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto have spoken adamantly about the games being held without exception in 2021. Bach said that the games would go on “with or without Covid" and Hashimoto said that the games must be held in 2021 “at any cost,” according to the AFP. 

Japan has largely fought off COVID-19, with about 1,900 deaths due to the virus. Its borders were completely sealed until recently and almost 100 percent of the public report wearing face masks to curtail the spread of the disease. 

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. When in a new city, she's usually out to discover under-the-radar art, culture, and secondhand stores. No matter her location, you can find her on Twitter, on Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

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