TOKYO — World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said here on Thursday that Tokyo will host a fantastic Olympic Games despite the uncertainties amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coe arrived here on Wednesday night and became the first high-profile leader of international sports organizations to visit Japan since the coronavirus outbreak.
The former president of the London Olympics organizing committee inspected the track at the Olympic Stadium accompanied by the Japanese Olympic Committee chief Yasuhiro Yamashita and World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon.
“We don’t know for sure what will happen in the next few months,” Coe said, braving the rain on the track. “We are absolutely committed to working with the organizing committee for the delivery of a fantastic games, though there have to be some adaptions.
“There needs to be some differences, but I am absolutely convinced that even under these circumstances, there will still be fantastic games. We will adapt, we will also be supported with the organizing committee in anything we need to do to make sure that athletics is the center stage of the Olympic Games.”
Coe will meet with Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori later, but admitted that he did not come for “assurances” from the organizers.
“Athletics is the number one sport of the Olympic Games. We are here to let the organizing committee know, I think they already know it. We want to work very closely with them. We want these games to be hugely successful. They (the games) will come when the world is relying heavily on sport. I hope they come out of the pandemic.”
The Englishman is excited by the two world records that were broken in Valencia, Spain on Wednesday night — by Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei in the men’s 10,000 meters and Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey in the women’s 5,000 meters.
“This is a spectacular season,” said Coe, himself a two-time former Olympic champion. “This is an exceptional year. I’m really thankful for them. It tells me that the athletes have weathered the pandemic months extremely well. Many of them have been limited to their own houses for many months.”
He also hopes that Tokyo will host the world championships again soon after the Olympic Games.
“We want athletics to have a permanent home in Japan,” he said. “It would be a perfect solution to bring the world championships here as soon as possible,” he said.
Japan hosted the world championships twice, in Tokyo in 1991 and Osaka in 2007.