TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 14, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
1. JOHN COATES, INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE'S COORDINATION COMMISSION CHIEF, SPEAKING SEATED NEXT TO TOKYO 2020 PRESIDENT, YOSHIRO MORI (NOT A SOUNDBITE)
2. MORE OF COATES SPEAKING (NOT A SOUNDBITE)
3. COATES AND MORI SHAKING HANDS AT END OF NEWS CONFERENCE
TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - JANUARY 24, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
4. OLYMPIC RINGS MONUMENT LIGHTING UP IN FRONT OF RAINBOW BRIDGE TO MARK SIX MONTHS TO GO UNTIL TOKYO 2020 GAMES
5. OLYMPIC RINGS AS FIREWORKS STARTING
6. VARIOUS OF FIREWORKS DISPLAY ABOVE OLYMPIC RINGS MONUMENT AND RAINBOW BRIDGE
7. FIREWORKS DISPLAY ENDING
TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - DECEMBER 15, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
8. OLYMPIC RINGS OUTSIDE NATIONAL STADIUM
9. VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF NATIONAL STADIUM
10. VARIOUS INTERIORS OF NATIONAL STADIUM
11. WOODEN BEAMS IN STADIUM ROOF
12. VARIOUS INTERIORS OF NATIONAL STADIUM
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND (FILE - MARCH 3, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
13. VARIOUS OF IOC PRESIDENT, THOMAS BACH, ARRIVING TO MEETING
14. BACH SHAKING HANDS AND SITTING DOWN AND GREETING THE DELEGATES
STORY: The Tokyo Olympics are not contingent on the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus, International Olympic Committee member John Coates said on Wednesday (April 29).
His comments come after the president of the Japan Medical Association (JMA), a powerful physicians' lobby, said on Tuesday it would be "difficult" for Japan to host the already postponed Games in 2021 without an effective COVID-19 vaccine, while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe added on Wednesday that they could not take place unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained.
Australian Coates, the head of the IOC's Coordination Commission for the Olympics, said in an exchange not available to Reuters on camera, that JMA president Yoshitake Yokokura's comment was an "opinion".
"But the advice we're getting from WHO (the World Health Organisation) says we should continue to plan for this date and that is what we're doing, and that's not contingent on a vaccine," Coates told Australian Associated Press.
"A vaccine would be nice.
"But we will just continue to be guided, as we must be, by WHO and the Japanese health authorities because in all of this, the health and wellbeing of the athletes and other participants in the Games is the number one priority."
The Games, originally set to start in July this year, have been rescheduled for 2021, to be held over July 23 to Aug. 8.
The delay was a major blow for Japan, which has spent $13 billion on preparations.
Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said in an interview published on Tuesday that the Games would be "scrapped" if they could not take place in 2021.
Japan has recorded more than 13,000 COVID-19 infections and nearly 400 deaths.
(Production: Andy Ragg)