Bach slams Tokyo speculation, praises Beijing preparations

2021-01-29 12:06:48

The ice-making at Beijing's National Indoor Stadium is completed in Beijing on Jan 28. [Photo/Xinhua] PARIS-International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach on Wednesday reiterated the IOC's commitment to delivering the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, adding that preparation work for Beijing 2022 has been "excellent". "We are fully concentrated on and committed to the successful and safe delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, starting on July 23 with the Olympic Games and August 24 with the Paralympic Games," Bach said at a media conference after an IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. Speaking of Beijing 2022, the IOC chief said: "We can say, even one year before, that all the (competition) venues are ready, the technical preparations are excellent." Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, all 12 Beijing 2022 competition venues have been completed, a high-speed railway linking Beijing and co-host Zhangjiakou is now operational, and nearly one million volunteer applications have been received. The Tokyo Games were originally scheduled to take place last summer, but were postponed until this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming the first Olympics in peacetime to suffer that fate. With Japan hit by a resurgence of the virus in recent months, media reports claimed that the Games would once again be postponed and may even be canceled. "There is speculation about cancellation, about a Plan B. Some even make the proposal to postpone the Olympic Games to the year 2032," Bach said. "But all these speculations are hurting the athletes who have already overcome challenges in their daily training and competition. We are not losing our time and energy on the speculations. We are working on how the Games will take place, we are fully concentrating on the opening ceremony on the 23rd of July this year." Bach said that the IOC's confidence is based upon the fact that many sporting events have been held successfully in the past year. "We have seen during this winter season, more than 7,000 events have been organized by the international federations with 175,000 COVID-19 tests having been taken, and only 0.18 percent were positive. The competitions could be run, could be organized." At the meeting, it was also decided that the 137th IOC session, set to take place from March 10-12 in Athens, Greece, will now be held virtually. Cutting emissions In addition, the IOC on Wednesday announced plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030, in response to the growing climate crisis. Aligning with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the IOC will offset more than 100 percent of its remaining carbon emissions, mainly through the Olympic Forest project, which is part of the Great Green Wall, an existing UN-backed initiative to combat desertification in Africa's Sahel region, according to an IOC statement. Such measures would render the IOC "climate positive"-meaning it removes more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits. The ambitious target puts the IOC in line with the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius. To achieve the 45 percent cut in emissions, the IOC has set up an intermediate reduction target of 30 percent to be achieved by 2024. The IOC Sustainability and Legacy Commission has been tasked with developing action plans to achieve both targets. The IOC has previously committed to making the Olympic Games "climate positive". From 2030 onwards, each Games organizing committee will be contractually obliged to adopt a series of emission-friendly measures. All upcoming Olympic Games, including Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022, have committed to carbon neutrality. Qualifier postponed Meanwhile, artistic swimming's Olympic qualification in Tokyo has been postponed until May because of COVID-19 restrictions in Japan, organizers said on Thursday. Tokyo 2020 organizers and swimming's world governing body FINA said the qualifier, which had been due to take place in March, will instead be held from May 1-4. Japan has effectively shut its borders to foreign nationals, with Tokyo and much of the country under a state of emergency. Xinhua