International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound made headlines this week when he told the BBC he “can't be certain” the Olympic Games will go ahead as planned in 2021 in the wake of rising COVID-19 numbers.
The Canadian clarified Friday during an appearance on Writers Bloc that his confidence level in the Games taking place in Japan this year remains “very high” and that he was merely pointing out the fact there is no certainty with the ongoing pandemic.
“I’m confident that the organizers have done everything possible to make sure that it’ll go smoothly, but who knows what the virus will decide,” Pound said. “So, I’d say I’m three-to-one confident that things will go on.”
Pound said he thought Japan’s decision to declare a state of emergency on Thursday for Tokyo and surrounding prefectures was “a very smart thing” and “timely” because “we’ve still got several months to go and let’s get a grip on the spreading of the virus.”
If the Games manage to begin as currently scheduled on July 23, one question that has arisen is whether or not any spectators will be allowed at certain events.
“Japan will have to decide what access it grants to people from foreign countries and of course the last few months it has essentially shut itself off from that travel, as have other countries,” Pound explained. “They certainly know that the Olympics in Tokyo are not a Japanese event to which a few strangers are invited – it’s a world event that they’re hosting and they’ve got to make sure the conditions for people to come and participate and spectate to the extent you can have spectators.”
The Olympics were originally supposed to take place in 2020 but were postponed due to the pandemic. The IOC has stated if these Games require further postponement they would, unfortunately, be cancelled instead.
“After 18 months of this grind of the pandemic that’s got everybody down, we need some good news stories for the world and what’s a better good news story than 206 countries, 11,000 athletes coming together, celebrating these games and saying, ‘We can overcome these challenges and here’s an example of how it’s done,’” Pound added. “That kind of a message is much-needed by the world at large.”
With files from The Associated Press