Olympics: IOC chief Bach kicks off Tokyo visit to build momentum towards rearranged Games

TOKYO (REUTERS) – International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach is set to meet the organisers of the Tokyo Olympics on Monday (Nov 16) as part of a two-day visit to Japan to demonstrate his commitment to holding the Games, despite the global pandemic.

The visit will be his first to the Japanese capital since he and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to postpone the Games to 2021 because of the novel coronavirus in March.

On Monday, Bach is scheduled to meet with Japan's new premier Yoshihide Suga and Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike.

The key areas Bach will want to discuss with organisers during his visit are whether spectators will be allowed in to venues, and how best to safely accommodate over 11,000 athletes arriving in Tokyo from across the world.

His visit comes a week after Tokyo successfully hosted a one-off international gymnastics meet where organisers tested a variety of Covid-19 counter-measures.

News of a potentially successful vaccine from Pfizer Inc has boosted hopes for the staging of the Games next year, but public opinion in Japan remains mixed. Nearly 70 per cent of respondents in a July NHK poll said they thought the Games should be further postponed or cancelled.

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