Well, what do you want to say when you stand in such an empty, new stadium that costs the equivalent of 1.2 billion euros and now have to say something that should sound both state-supporting and optimistic – in the midst of the Corona disaster that is looming everywhere? “Inspirational” and “authentic” is how Thomas Bach tried to describe the atmosphere in the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Tuesday during his visit. In the arena where the opening and closing ceremonies of the Summer Olympics and the Summer Paralympics are to be held next year.
Inspiration! Well, it really takes a bit of imagination to imagine that the young people of the world will celebrate their big multisport festival here in eight months: 10,000 athletes from all over the world who will be here from July 23 to August 8, 2021 in Tokyo will finally hold all those competitions that could not take place in 2020 due to the corona pandemic. The billion-dollar spectacle was postponed for exactly one year on March 24th.
For the first time since this decision, the German President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stayed for two days in Japan’s capital – to assure the hosts of the extensive support of the IOC and of course to give the mega-event planned for 2020 a little bit of attention. As good as a 66-year-old ex-fencer from Tauberbischofsheim can do.
After all, as the IOC president you act on an equal footing with the greats: On Monday, Bach awarded the gold Olympic medal to the resigned Prime Minister and Olympic proponent Shinzō Abe (walked through the Maracana Stadium dressed as Super Mario at the closing ceremony of Rio 2016). Then Bach met the new Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, in the Kantei, the prime minister’s residence. Suga then announced that a success of the Tokyo Games could provide “proof” that “mankind has defeated the virus”. Suga doesn’t want to cancel the Olympics; he could benefit directly: The games will take place just one month before the Japanese parliamentary election in September 2021.
The head Olympian and the premier posed for the photographers wearing mouth protection, and after the meeting, Bach said that together with Japan they would make “the Olympic flame a light at the end of the tunnel.” “We fully agree on these efforts. The cooperation is as close as it can be. “
Olympic politics is symbolic politics, always and everywhere. The IOC boss tried to position the Order of the Rings as a peacemaker in the eternal dispute between North and South Korea on the occasion of the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang (South Korea). In 2021 he is trying to give the IOC a positive meaning worldwide in matters of Corona.
In this respect, it was quite significant that Bach said no when he was asked in Tokyo whether a vaccination would be mandatory for athletes in the coming year: “That goes too far.” In addition to legal uncertainties, this also plays a major role for him Vaccine availability matters. He also does not want any preference for the athletes when it comes to a possible vaccination. In the first place should be others: “Nurses, the doctors and the people who keep our society alive”.
However, Bach also said what he would like from the Olympic participants if a vaccination should be possible: “We will make every effort to ensure that as many participants as possible accept a vaccine. This is the first effort. It’s not about making it a duty or a condition. We want to convince as many foreign participants as possible. ”He also assumes that an“ appropriate number ”of viewers will be admitted. Japan has the virus under control comparatively well. Around 1900 deaths in Japan are attributed to Covid-19 – out of a population of 125 million.
Japan had recently rehearsed major events under corona conditions: up to 30,000 spectators were allowed in baseball games, and a competition with 30 world-class gymnasts from Japan, China, Russia and the USA was held in front of thousands as a “competition for friendship and solidarity” – so far without any effects on the pandemic.