IOC plans for international spectators for Tokyo Olympics as confidence rises

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IOC President Thomas Bach said confidence is rising regarding the Tokyo Olympics given rapid coronavirus testing and the possibility of a vaccine.

“We are almost more confident that, at the beginning of the next year, we can add to the tools for the counter measures [to the virus],” Bach said Wednesday. “New, even more reliable rapid tests and also vaccine, or vaccines, even will be available. This makes both the organizing committee and the IOC very, very confident about the Opening Ceremony on 23rd of July.”

The IOC and Tokyo organizers, who are following direction from medical experts including the World Health Organization, have not said vaccine availability is a prerequisite for the Games taking place.

“We remain committed to this one overarching principle we have established already before the postponement — this means to organize the Olympic Games only by safeguarding the safety and the health of all people involved in the Olympic Games,” Bach said when asked by Mike Tirico in July about needing a significant medical advancement or vaccine. “We will address the circumstances as they may arise.”

Bach also said Wednesday that Olympic officials are working on the basis that spectators coming from outside Japan will be allowed at the Games.

“What we do not know is whether we can fill the stadia to full capacity or whether other measures would have to be applied,” Bach said. “In the last couple of weeks, we could [see] during this second wave, which is obviously under way, that you can organize big and complex sporting events.

“You have seen the start of the big [Japanese] professional leagues [baseball, soccer] with certain number of spectators.”

Organizers found more than 50 ways to simplify the Games, saving $280 million.

It has been stressed that the athlete experience will not be impacted. The number of events and athletes will not be reduced.

Tokyo organizers said Sept. 25 that the overall contents of Opening and Closing Ceremonies could be affected.

“The Opening Ceremony is the showcase for the host country to show its culture, to show its perception of the Olympic Games, the Olympic values,” Bach said. “While content may be adjusted one way or another, we will not touch on the athletes’ experience.”

Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s executive director for the Olympic Games, expects “a clearer picture” by the end of 2020 for operational policies for the Games — “from transportation to spectators, food and beverage, every single detail.”

“There is a lot of confidence because of these new elements regarding rapid testing and the vaccines,” Dubi said when asked if there’s a deadline on deciding whether fans will be allowed from outside Japan. “So, no deadline, but a clearer picture, and then we’ll move into spring and summer to establish, finally, the policies.”

MORE: How the Olympics, Paralympics intersected over time

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Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

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Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to Olympedia.org.

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”