Task force set up to reschedule Tokyo Olympics face ‘unprecedented challenge’

An “unprecedented challenge” awaits the new task force set up to reschedule the Tokyo Olympic Games, according to the president of the local organising committee.

The task force met for the first time on Thursday, two days after International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe agreed to postpone the Games due to take place this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“From now we take on an unprecedented challenge,” Tokyo 2020 organising committee president Yoshiro Mori told the 30-strong group, in quotes reported by the Kyodo news agency.

The group, which Bach said will be called Here We Go, will consult with international sports federations and other government bodies to work out the best time in 2021 to host the event.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games will definitely not take place in 2020, and in the joint statement on Thursday announcing the postponement it was confirmed that the aim is to hold the events no later than the summer of 2021.

Making a swift decision appears key, but Bach said on Wednesday that the quality of the decision on timing was also important.

“There are many things that can’t proceed if the new hosting period is not decided quickly,” Tokyo 2020 organising committee chief executive Toshiro Muto said.

Bach says all options up to the summer of 2021 are an option, leaving open the possibility of a spring Games.

British hurdler Dai Greene immediately criticised the idea of a ‘cherry blossom’ Olympics, writing on Twitter: “When do we get the chance to compete and qualify for a spring Games? This summer will be sparse at best. Someone have a word.”

IOC president Bach said cancellation had been an “option on the table” when discussions around postponements were held over the weekend but it was clear “from the beginning” that it was not an option the IOC favoured.

“Our mission is to organise Olympic Games and to make the Olympic dreams of athletes come true,” he added.