Olympics-New Zealand fully committed to Tokyo Games, says NZOC president


FILE PHOTO: New Zealand's flag bearer Nick Willis holds the national flag as he leads the contingent in the athletes parade during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake

(Reuters) - The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) is fully committed to the Tokyo Games this year, with planning progressing for what will be a "vastly different" Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its chief Mike Stanley said on Thursday.

More than 200 athletes are expected to represent New Zealand at the July 23-Aug. 8 Games, and former rower Stanley said it was the duty of his "athlete-led" organisation to help them achieve their dreams.

"We're fully committed to Tokyo 2020," Stanley said in a statement after the NZOC presented its 2020 annual report.

"Planning... is progressing well with organisers and the Japanese authorities committed to hosting a different but still safe and successful Games.

"We have a high level of confidence in the work of Japanese authorities supported by the World Health Organisation to plan for and put in place protective measures. Most importantly, our athletes have trained thousands of hours for this."

Stanley, who represented New Zealand at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, said the NZOC is fully aware of the need for effective countermeasures against COVID-19.

New Zealand last month began administering vaccinations to athletes ahead of their departure.

"In addition to measures put in place by Tokyo 2020, the NZOC will have its own health protocols to prioritise and protect the New Zealand team environment," Stanley said.

"It's fantastic we're underway with vaccination for the team and are most grateful to the New Zealand Government for their support with this, managed isolation and quarantine, and general security and health advice and monitoring."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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