Since the first “Olympism and Corona” message in April, our message about the positive health, social and economic impacts of sport on society at large has gained considerable momentum. What we can see now is that sport is widely recognised as an essential factor in fighting the pandemic, which still persists in many countries. Sport is also accepted as an integral part of the solution for the crisis recovery, which is underway in other countries.
Thankfully, we are also seeing live sports events taking place again. The very positive reception of these events clearly demonstrates that not only athletes and sports organisations but also the public at large have been longing for the return of sport as an integral part of our lives. We also see that sport can be organised safely, even under the ongoing restrictions. This should give all of us confidence in our preparations for future events, including the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. I would like to thank all the people who have brought us this far by working tirelessly to keep our societies going, and all of you in the sporting community who are working with great responsibility and creativity to organise sports events, safeguarding the health of all concerned.
Based on this early success, we are looking forward to the time when the many restrictions, which are essential now, can be eased. But we have to continue to act in a responsible way when it comes to planning and scheduling our sports events. The virus is not defeated yet. We must continue to contribute to its containment and be a part of the solution for the recovery from the crisis. In our planning and scheduling, we all have a great responsibility, not only for our respective stakeholders, but for the entire sports community. From experience, we know that every mishap that affects one of us affects all of us – and has the potential to undo the great progress we have made together in the past few months.
In this context, we are monitoring the potential of innovative testing methods for the safe organisation of events. In addition to the already existing test methods, there are a number of so-called rapid tests already on the market or under development. When used in combination with other virus countermeasures, such rapid tests give us an important additional tool to ensure a safe environment for everyone involved. Further to this good news with regard to testing, there are very encouraging signals from the scientific and medical community about the availability of approved vaccines in the next few months, maybe even before the end of this year.
Taken together, the developments in testing and in vaccines will greatly facilitate the safe organisation of sports events. We should all take the timing of the availability of these new tools into consideration when it comes to the scheduling of our events. Therefore, to the many different scenarios the IOC is planning for, we have added one to fully exploit the potential of testing and vaccines. On the one hand, these recent weeks have shown that we can organise big sports events in a safe way even without a vaccine. On the other hand, we have to realise that even testing methods and vaccines are not the “silver bullet” that will solve all our problems. We just do not yet know the full impact of any potential vaccine. But, altogether, there are good reasons for cautious optimism.
The IOC will continue to study these developments closely. We are also evaluating what consequences they would have for the organisation of sports events, ranging from the need to change certain rules of our respective organisations to medical, economic, social and logistical aspects. To this end, we continue to cooperate closely with the World Health Organization, public authorities, medical and scientific experts, as well as pharmaceutical companies. We are also drawing from the experience of those sports organisations that have recently organised successful events. We of course will share any insights with all those concerned among you, so that all of us in the Olympic Movement can benefit. We have shown in recent months that we are indeed #StrongerTogether. In this spirit of solidarity, we should continue to make our contribution to the containment of the virus and to the recovery from the crisis. In advance, I would already like to thank you very much for your continued cooperation in our shared endeavour to give hope and confidence to the world through sport.