• Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020

Tokyo officials vow Olympics ‘at any cost,’ even if coronavirus remains in 2021

Sports officials pledged in their strongest words yet that the Olympic games in Tokyo, postponed due to the pandemic, will take place in summer 2021 — an encouraging sign to the athletes whose dreams of gold had been deferred.

Japan’s Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto told reporters that the Tokyo Games must be held “at any cost” beginning on July 23, a year after the coronavirus forced the quadrennial summer competition’s postponement.

“Everyone involved with the games is working together to prepare, and the athletes are also making considerable efforts towards next year,” Hashimoto said. “I think we have to hold the games at any cost.”

Jordan Burroughs, right, of the U.S. controls Japan’s Yuhi Fujinami during their 74-kilogram match in the freestyle wrestling World Cup on April 7, 2018, in Iowa City, Iowa.Charlie Neibergall / AP file

U.S. wrestling hopeful Jordan Burroughs was told of Hashimoto’s comments as he was speaking with NBC’s “Today” show — and then broke out in a wide smile.

“So this is like real time, I think it’s tremendous. It gives me a sense of peace,” a relieved Burroughs said. “This decision makes me excited, because now I know surely that I have something that I can truly prepare for.”

Hashimoto said the games are “coming up with COVID-19 countermeasures” in anticipation of the pandemic continuing into the next year. Organizers are encouraged seeing sports going forward across the globe this summer, even as the world still struggles to contain the coronavirus.

Professional baseball and soccer are allowing limited crowds in Japan and MLB games in United States have been played in empty stadiums.

“I decided not to give up and that’s part of the Olympic spirit,” said hurdler MIkel Thomas, from Trinidad and Tobago.

Egyptian swimmer Farida Osman on Wednesday reflected on the bitter disappointment of this past summer’s games being called, but she said she’s leaned on friends and family.

“After Olympic postponement, it was hard to find the positives, but after these few months have passed, I realized that this is exactly what I personally needed,” the University of California, Berkeley-educated swimmer tweeted.

“It made me slow down, gain a different perspective and appreciate the company of family and friends more. I cherish all the memories that I’ve made and the people that I came across. I will forever be grateful for that.”

Osman, who won a 50-meter butterfly bronze at the 2019 world championships, ended her inspirational message with the hashtag #Tokyo2021.

“Keep lifting and inspiring each other – we all need it one way or another,” she wrote. “Let’s start over and get ready for the Olympic season.”

NBCUniversal, which is the parent company of NBC News, owns the media rights to the upcoming Olympics.

Reuters contributed.