IOC President Thomas Bach joined the biggest International Athletes Forum ever to give updates on Olympic preparations and discuss the 'Playbook' on how the Tokyo 2020 Games can be safely delivered.
IOC President Thomas Bach addressed the 10th International Athletes' Forum (IAF) to confirm that the preparations and delivery of a safe Tokyo 2020 Games this summer are in their final stages.
Just 57 days from the start of the Games, Mr. Bach said "Tokyo is the best prepared Olympic city ever," stressing that "it's about making the athletes feel comfortable and making the Japanese people feel comfortable," as updates on progress on the ground were also shared.
It was the largest ever IAF forum as around 2,000 athletes and Olympian representatives joined over two days to have their voices heard, and this was the first time the forum happened virtually.
Athletes expressed their support and excitement for the upcoming Games, like two-time Olympic canoe medallist Jessica Fox from Australia who said:
"I’m really looking forward to finally getting over there. There’s been great communication from the IOC, and I have full confidence in everyone at the Tokyo Organising Committee to put on a safe Olympic Games.”
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During the two-day event many topics were covered, and proposals made for improvements moving forward. On Day 1 Olympic alpine skiing champion Lindsey Vonn shared her personal mental health journey as the day focussed on athlete wellbeing, safeguarding, and mental health.
Day 2 saw many athletes share their excitement about and confidence in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, talking about the successful delivery of the test events held in the past few months, and also expressing their commitment to respecting the measures detailed in the Playbooks in order to deliver a safe Olympic Games for all participants and all the Japanese people.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics: "Here we go"
IOC President Bach joined the studio in Lausanne to answer questions from participants on many different topics.
On the Tokyo Olympics, he highlighted the progress on the ground and importance of the Seven Playbooks that lay out in detail how the Athletes, Federations, Olympic and Paralympic Family, Marketing Partners, Broadcasters, Press, and Workforce can help delivery a secure and successful Games.
He also added that there are other things everyone involved can do, like taking the vaccination when it is available:
On top of the playbooks you will take the opportunity whenever it arises to take vaccinated because this will increase the safety there for everybody, for yourself, for all your fellow athletes and for the Japanese people, so please if you have the opportunity... then accept the vaccination. - IOC President Thomas Bach
Asked about the welfare of the athletes at the Games, President Bach said:
"Because of the pandemic we all know the athletes' experience will be very different but what is important is the competitions - these are the essentials - can and will take place in a safe way and in full respect.
"The president of the organising committee is a seven-time Olympian, he continued, "so this should give all of us a lot of confidence that it's really about the athletes and about making the athletes feel comfortable and making the Japanese people feel comfortable and there again this high vaccination rate is an important factor on top of all the measures and restrictions that we will respect as we have them in the Playbooks."
In this respect, the athletes and participants also highlighted the importance of their own role in actively sharing information to ensure all athletes and everyone else has the latest information and a clear understanding of the arrangements in place in Tokyo.