Tokyo Games to decide COVID-19 'counter-measures' by end of year: IOC's Coates

FILE PHOTO: The giant Olympic rings, which are being temporarily removed for maintenance, are seen behind Japan's national flag, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan August 6, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Organisers are ploughing ahead with the postponed Tokyo Olympics and will decide by the end of the year what "counter-measures" are required to hold them safely in the time of COVID-19, IOC Vice President John Coates said on Tuesday.

Australian Coates heads up the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Games, which were delayed until 2021 because of the pandemic.

Coates told reporters in Sydney that organisers were "throwing whatever resources are necessary" at the Games.

"Our decision at the moment is to go ahead," Coates said at an event marking the 20th anniversary of the 2000 Sydney Olympics' opening ceremony.

"What we wait for is to decide what counter-measures we need to go ahead with, to proceed depending on what stage COVID is at.

"The extent of the ceremonies, the extent of the crowd participation, any necessary quarantine when they arrive in Japan. All of those things.

"And by the time we get to the end of the year we'll make an assessment on what counter-measures we'll need to apply."

The Japanese government and the IOC took the unprecedented decision in March to postpone the Games, which were originally scheduled to begin in July.

Tokyo officials have said they intend to put on the Games in 2021 even if the pandemic has not eased substantially.

Australia's retired five-time Olympic champion swimmer Ian Thorpe said he wanted to see the Games go ahead but was doubtful they could without a vaccine.

"First and foremost is people's health," Thorpe told reporters at the Sydney Games ceremony.

"So let's put that into perspective and if we haven't got a treatment or a vaccine for COVID, the Olympics will possibly not go ahead."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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