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Olympics Chief Confident Spectators Will Be in Attendance for Postponed Tokyo Games

FILE - Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), speaks in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 25, 2020.

The head of the International Olympic Committee said he is “very confident” that spectators will be allowed to attend next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympic Summer Games -- as long as they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

IOC President Thomas Bach made the pledge Monday in the Japanese capital after meeting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for two days of talks to discuss the coronavirus countermeasures organizers are putting in place for the Games.

Bach said the IOC “will undertake great efforts” to ensure all Olympic participants and visitors are vaccinated before they arrive in Japan next July, if a vaccine is available by then, so that spectators will have “a safe environment."

The Tokyo Olympics were initially scheduled to be held between July and August of this year, but organizers and then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to postpone the event for a year as the pandemic began spreading across the globe.

Organizers' hopes that the Games could still be held were boosted last week after Tokyo successfully hosted an international gymnastics competition. But public opinion surveys suggest most Japanese residents are opposed to staging the Games.

Organizers said last week that participating athletes will not have to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine period when they arrive. Tokyo Olympics Chief Executive Toshiro Muto told reporters that a decision on allowing foreign spectators to observe the events would be finalized next year, but said it is a possibility the two-week quarantine could be waived for them as well.