The Olympics and Paralympics could be held in front of "a limited number of spectators" due to Covid-19, says Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto.

Muto told BBC Sport organisers “will do everything we can to make it to the opening ceremony” on 23 July, 2021.

The International Olympic Committee does not want to put the Games back a further year until 2022. 

“Everyone should focus on holding the event next year - we’re on the same page,” said Muto.

“We discussed this with Mr [Thomas] Bach [IOC president] and he’s saying it isn't appropriate to think about cancelling or postponing again."

The Games have already been postponed for a year due to Covid-19 and with more than 660,000 people having died globally during the pandemic, Muto admits they may have to stage events without capacity crowds.

Asked about the possibility of the Olympics being held with no spectators, Muto replied: “Mr Bach is not looking for that scenario.

“He may be thinking about a limited number of spectators with full consideration of social distancing.”


'Tokyo 2020 will leave a legacy'

The Games, still known as Tokyo 2020, are scheduled to be staged between 23 July and 8 August 2021, with the Paralympics from 24 August to 5 September.

Health experts have cast doubt over whether they could be held without a vaccine or effective drugs to treat Covid-19.

“If a vaccine is ready, that will be a benefit, but we’re not saying we can’t hold the event without it - it’s not a precondition,” said Muto.

“We must build an environment where people feel safe. Athletes and the IOC family may require testing before/after entering Japan and [we need] strong medical systems around accommodation and transportation plans.

“More than 130 countries are restricted from entering the country. We don’t know what will happen, but it’s too optimistic to assume all restrictions will be gone so we must think of other ways.”

Muto said options included reducing the number of staff and delegations from individual countries and ‘simplifying’ the opening and closing ceremonies, although there were no plans to cut the number of events or athletes.

“If we’re able to succeed, Tokyo 2020 will leave a legacy as the first major international event held after the pandemic,” he added.

“It will be a new chapter of the Olympics and will be remembered as the first Olympics held during the coronavirus crisis. That’s our strong wish.” BBC