The vice president of the International Olympic Committee, John Coates, promised the BBC on Monday that the Olympic Games will begin on July 23, 2021. Coates explained that the Games were supposed to showcase Japan's reconstruction after a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the country in 2011. Now, Coates believes they will serve as the "light at the end of the tunnel," proving that the Olympics "conquered" the pandemic.
"The Games were going to be their theme, the Reconstruction Games after the devastation of the tsunami," Coates said. "Now very much these will be the Games that conquered COVID, the light at the end of the tunnel."
The IOC's announcement comes after various sporting leagues around the world have resumed play without spreading the coronavirus. Yet most of these sports were able to continue by creating a bubble atmosphere. This would be hard to do for an event the size of the Olympics. Despite this, Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said the Games will move forward with or without a vaccine.
"If a vaccine is ready, that will be a benefit," Muto said. "But we're not saying we can't hold the event without it—it's not a precondition."
So far, there is no word on whether fans will be in attendance. Japan has mostly closed its borders to visitors from other countries. It is believed that exceptions will have to be made for qualifying athletes to enter the country due to these border restrictions.