The games in Tokyo will be full of surprises, says the head of the Olympians Jiří Kejval

photo: ČTK / Šulová Kateřina

Two years ago, most Japanese supported the Tokyo Olympics. Today, there are many people against. The reason is the fear of further spread of Covid-19. How do you look at it?

I understand it and I understand it. But the measures will be so strict and sophisticated in the case of athletes and officials that, in my opinion, there is no danger to the Japanese from this side. Athletes will live in their bubbles, they will be tested every day, they will only move in designated places. In the end, spectators are not allowed on the sports field. Almost everyone who comes to the games is vaccinated. Therefore, from foreign participants, I think there is no real danger of the infection spreading.

Do some Czech athletes refuse to be vaccinated?

Almost everyone is vaccinated. Like the escort, of course I do.

Even before the games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016, apocalyptic predictions about a possible zika virus infection appeared. But then it was different.

Today, however, few people remember what happened in 2016 before the Rio Olympics. Even then, there were calls for its abolition. Reason? Zika virus. Several Czech athletes even refused to participate because of this. But not a single case of zika virus infection appeared there. At the same time, 160 scientists from world-famous universities spoke before the Olympics and claimed to the public that the Olympics would cause a pandemic of the zika virus. Unfortunately, in our time, some things are extremely inflated and exaggerated.

However, the coronavirus pandemic is a reality. And sometimes cruel.

Yes, but it is good that in the end the Olympics will be in Japan. The Japanese are an extremely proud nation that wants to show the world how advanced, disciplined and that it can handle this problem.

So do you think there will be no major problem in Japan?

I believe in it. As for the sports part itself, the viewers, apart from the fact that the sports grounds will be empty, will not know anything on television. On the contrary, what we seem to see will be some surprising results. After all, the preparation and training of many athletes took place differently due to the pandemic, and this may affect the current form.

The Tokyo Olympics were postponed by a year, and the coronavirus brought many limitations and changes to the organization itself. Doesn’t that cause complications either?

Everything will take place with the usual Japanese perfection and precision. Each step of all participants is thought out in every detail, there is a detailed description, you can say instructions on what and how to do. The Japanese thought of everything.

However, an athlete or coach may become ill with coronavirus. What then? Will the entire national team then be eliminated?

Never. In case of a problem, it will only affect individuals. In addition to the things mentioned, everyone will have an application on their mobile phone and will announce where they are moving. In order to be able to trace immediately in the event of a positive test. We already have our people in Tokyo and it is really checked every day.

Will the Czech national team in Japan have any extra people because of Covid?

There is also a special, I can say “covid” official who will monitor and evaluate all possible things around this. We will simply have to follow special rules, but it can be done for two weeks. In addition, athletes know what they are getting into.

You are also a member of the International Olympic Committee. Some critics say that only the IOC wants the Olympics. How would you respond to that?

If only the International Olympic Committee wanted it, 3 billion people in the world would not be watching this biggest event in the world.

One more thing. Someone constantly emphasizes that politics does not belong in sport. However, the recent European Football Championship was accompanied by one political shot after another. There are politicians who want to boycott the Olympics in China next year, and the Tokyo Games are also significantly interfering with Japanese politics. Why do we see such strong politicization around sport.

The Olympics, as I have already said, are among the most important events in the world, which is why, logically, they sometimes become the subject of political struggle. But I do not consider it right to boycott the Olympics. Then the athletes themselves pay the most for it, who sometimes try for many years to get to the games at all. Let someone ask our former Czechoslovak athletes how they view the communist boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. It was a real tragedy for some of them. I understand the criticism of human rights violations and other issues, but the boycott in this case does not solve anything and has never solved anything in history. Let it be solved by other tools, not similar gestures.

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