AOC: 2021 Tokyo Olympics 'definitely going ahead as planned'

Australian Olympic Committee [AOC] chief Matt Carroll says there is nothing to suggest the 2021 Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled, despite reports from international media outlets on Friday that the Japanese government has privately concluded the event cannot go ahead, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Tokyo Games are definitely on. The flame will be lit on the 23rd of July," Carroll said on Friday afternoon in Sydney. "Our chef de mission has already written to all of the athletes to ease their anxiety about what they have read in the media and this unfounded rumour.

"We're all working hard here at the AOC to take the Australian team to Tokyo, our largest [team] since 2000, and give them the best opportunity for success."

Japan has managed COVID-19 relatively well since the outbreak began in early-2020, and Carroll believes the nation is well equipped to host a successful Olympic Games later this year.

"If any country can handle a logistical challenge it is Japan," he said. They are very good at it. There is an enormous effort going into the re-planning of the Games.

"But this will be a very, very different Games. It's not going to be like Rio or London, it's going to be a simpler Games. Ceremonies and cultural aspects of the Games will be reduced and this will very much be an athlete and competition-centred Games.

"Athletes will be tested everyday going into each training venue and competition venue. There will be COVID-19 protocol officers assigned to each Olympic committee, to ensure tracking and tracing is in place. The athletes will stay in the village, they will go to the training venues, they will go to competition venues and then they will come back to the village."

Earlier, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald that weekly discussions have been taking place on the logistics around the 2021 games.

"We're meeting with them on operational matters now as we move closer to the games. Then weekly we have, including last night, a meeting at the CEO level. And every few weeks we have a private chat to President Mori," Coates said. "There is no discussion on (potentially moving the Olympics to) 2032 with Japan because there is no discussion on not proceeding in Japan [this year]."

Carroll and Coates' comments come hours after International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach reaffirmed that the Games would go ahead as planned, saying there is "no plan B."

"We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo," he said. "We are fully committed to make these games safe and successful."