As the Olympic Games coming closer, Tatsuo Ogura, Project Director of the International Communications Team, spoke to Keshab Poudel via virtual interview. Excerpts of the interview
Nepal has been preparing for Tokyo Olympics for the last few years, how do you see the possibility of now hold the Olympics given growing COVID-19 challenges?
It is really an unprecedented situation for all of us under the current state of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Tokyo Olympic 2020 is the first-ever game that was postponed for one year. We are now preparing for the coming Olympic Games for summer. Even though we have postponed the game in very unprecedented circumstances, we are glad to have the games incoming summer. Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihito Suga has already expressed his determination to hold the games. As the government is leading the various coordination meeting and COVID-19 countermeasures, various infection countermeasures are under consideration which will able us to hold the games. All our delivery partners including the national government of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee as well as IOC and ICC are focusing on hosting the game this summer. Thus, we hope that the situation will be conducive to hold the games in the summer. We are taking every step to hold the games.
Nepal has a great attachment with Tokyo Olympics as Nepal has started participating in Olympics following participating Tokyo Olympics in 1964, how the preparation of the Olympic Games currently going on?
As I have already mentioned, this is the first game ever postponed due to unprecedented circumstances. It is not easy to hold the game but we have been working very closely with all different stakeholders to make the game possible. Despite making several efforts, the challenge is still COVID-19 Pandemic. Obviously, the great challenges are COVID-19 Pandemic countermeasures.
Can you explain the state of preparation now?
We have been working with various delivery partners. We held series of meeting regarding COVID-19 Pandemic countermeasures with the Government of Japan and Tokyo Metropolitan and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Committee last year. We have published the interim summary in December 2020. It proposed many aspects of COVID-19 countermeasures. International Olympic Committee (IOC) highly commended our progress made in such a period of time. We also published playbooks for each stakeholder. The first one has already published on February 3. This is for National Olympic Committees and International Sports Federations, broadcasters press people. There are playbooks dedicated to each of them. It is very important for them to understand how we have made these countermeasures. We have to be on the same page. It talks about every detailed aspect including criteria for entering Japan and playtime. Until leaving Japan, everyone has to alliance with this.
Given COVID-19 Pandemic, the Olympic has already postponed for a year, how will be it different from the earlier one?
Despite the pandemic, the numbers of games and venues remain the same as last year. We really appreciate it as all delivery partners are supporting us including the venue holders. All the owners agree to provide us. International Federations and National Olympic committees, marketing partners are supporting us to hold these postpone games. We thanked them for their sincere support. Given such circumstances, we will be able to hold the games upcoming summer in the same manner originally planned.
As Nepal has just started to administer COVID-19 Vaccine for frontline workers, it may take a longer time to administer the vaccine for the age group representing Olympic. Does the organizing committee have any plan to provide vaccines for participating athletes?
For vaccination Government of Japan, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee have held several meetings regarding the vaccine and how to hold the game securely and safely even with vaccination taking place. IOC has been working with national Olympic committees and each government about this. IOC works with NOCs and it can encourage and assists atheist and officials get vaccinated in their home countries in line with national immunization guidelines before they go to Japan. This will contribute to holding the safe environment of the games and also out of respect of the Japanese people. Such drive will help not only to protect the athletes and officials but also the Japanese people. During the consultation call with the NOCs, IOCs told that the numbers of government have already taken a positive decision in this respect. IOC has been working on that direction. Vaccination is not a prerequisite for athletes to compete.
What are your message to Nepalese athletes and Nepalese sports lover?
This is a very tough and unprecedented situation for everybody around the world. It is not easy to host the games in such circumstances as one year has already postponed. We are trying our best to make better conditions to provide a secure and safe environment to all athletes and officials from all over the world. We hope that we can have an Olympic game in the summer and showing the path we hope to see all the athletes who wish to see to join the games.