Sept. 9 (UPI) -- International Olympic Committee officials and Japan's Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto pledged that the Games in Tokyo will take place next summer despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Hashimoto said the Tokyo Games must be held "at any cost" starting July 23. The 2020 Tokyo Games were initially set to begin this July but were delayed until next year because of the COVID-19 outbreak -- a decision that cost the IOC about $800 million.
"Everyone involved with the Games is working together to prepare, and the athletes are also making considerable efforts toward next year," Hashimoto told reporters Tuesday. "I think we have to hold the Games at any cost."
Hashimoto's comments came one day after IOC vice president John Coates said next year's Games will happen "with or without" the virus.
"The Games were going to be their theme, the Reconstruction Games, after the devastation of the tsunami," Coates told reporters Monday, referring to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. "Now very much these will be the Games that conquered COVID-19 -- the light at the end of the tunnel."
IOC president Thomas Bach said his organization is committed to having a safe Games in 2021 but lots of planning lies ahead before the competitions can be staged.
Bach told reporters Wednesday that progress with vaccines and the development of rapid testing for the coronavirus wouldn't be the complete answer for holding the rescheduled Games next summer.
"They will not be the silver bullet, but they can greatly facilitate the organization of the Games," Bach said. "... In the coming weeks, you will see important and intensive discussions taking place with regard to different scenarios to COVID-19 countermeasures. We remain focused on delivering a safe and successful Games next year.
"We don't know how the world looks like tomorrow, so how can you expect us to know how the world looks in 320 days from today?"