International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Saturday repeated his call for support from the Japanese public on the Olympic Games just days away from the opening.
“There was never 100 percent support of Olympic Games or any other event,” he said in response to a question on waning public support, “such a discussion is becoming more heated and more emotional in a situation of pandemic.”
“What we can do, only, is to try to get the attention of these people” he said, “to gain their confidence in these strict COVID measures.”
Earlier Saturday, South Korea’s Olympic committee said it removed banners at the Olympic athletes’ village in Tokyo that referred to a 16th-century war between Korea and Japan after the International Olympic Committee ruled they were provocative.
“The Olympic village is one of the protected areas where the athletes should and can live peacefully together without having to face any kind of divisive messages whatsoever,” Bach said.
In agreeing to take down the banners, the South Koreans said they received a promise from the IOC that the displaying of the Japanese “rising sun” flag will be banned at stadiums and other Olympic venues.
The flag, portraying a red sun with 16 rays extending outward, is resented by many people in South Korea and other parts of Asia who see it as a symbol of Japan’s wartime past.
Asked whether there is any room to consider admitting spectators to the Tokyo Games, Bach said that organizers and the IOC would continue to monitor the coronavirus situation and reconvene a meeting if circumstances change.
The Tokyo 2020 organizers are expected to host a banquet on Sunday welcoming Bach and other delegates despite a state of emergency in Tokyo, drawing criticism.
Asked about the banquet, Bach deferred to the host saying regulations and restrictions are being followed, “we are just guests.”