IOC chief: Tokyo Olympics must be held in 2021 or will be canceled

Thomas Bach says staging the massive sporting event behind closed doors is "not what we want."

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The 2020 Summer Olympics have been pushed back a year, and if they don't happen in 2021, they'll be canceled outright.

Behrouz Mehri/Getty Images

The Tokyo Olympics will either be held in 2021, or canceled completely, and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach explained the reasoning to the  BBC  on Wednesday.

"You cannot forever employ 3,000 to 5,000 people in an organizing committee," Bach told BBC Sport. "You cannot have the athletes being in uncertainty."

The Tokyo Summer Olympics were originally scheduled to take place from July 24 till Aug. 9, 2020, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, they were pushed back a year and rescheduled for July 23 till Aug. 8, 2021. The Paralympic Games have also been rescheduled, and are now set to run from Aug. 24 till Sept. 5, 2021.

In late April, Tokyo Games organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said the games simply couldn't be postponed for a second time but added that he was confident the event would happen in 2021.

In the BBC interview, Bach said the rescheduled games would be "different," and noted that organizers would have to focus on "essentials." He wouldn't say if the event would go on if a coronavirus vaccine wasn't found before the opening date.

He also said that staging the events behind closed doors, with no spectators, was "not what we want."

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