A maximum of six officials per national delegation will be allowed to participate in the Parade of Nations at the opening ceremony of the postponed Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Wednesday (Nov 18).
However, the IOC’s Tokyo Olympic Games Coordination Commission chairman John Coates, who attended a project review with Games organisers, insisted that the number of athletes at the ceremony would not be cut.
“We don’t want to change the tradition that all athletes have the opportunity to parade at the opening ceremony,” the Australian, who is also an IOC vice-president, told reporters.
Key IOC officials, including Coates and president Thomas Bach, had been in the Japanese capital earlier this week as a show of support for the organisers as they try to arrange the Games despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following the decision in March to postpone the Games, the Olympics are now due to begin on July 23, 2021.
The opening ceremony at an Olympics is typically a much-awaited spectacle and athletes’ places are usually filled by officials from their national Olympic committees if they choose to focus on their preparations for their competitions. But this will not happen next year.
“The IOC executive board has already discussed this and we won’t allow it this time,” Coates added, noting that doing so “will increase the problem at the ceremony”.
“We want to see the athletes from all 206 delegations and the refugee team in the opening ceremony … The number of officials is limited to six.”
Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori, however, was less enthusiastic about the possibility of seeing all participating athletes march into the Olympic Stadium, although he admitted that the parade in the opening ceremony was their “prerogative” and “no one can deprive them of their right”.
“We have to have a secure and safe Games,” he said, adding that people need to make some “sacrifice”.
Mori said that it is still too early to make decisions because it might be not a problem to worry about.
“Maybe we should ask the opinions of the athletes,” the former Japanese Prime Minister said. “Are they really eager to participate in the parade? Maybe they want to win the gold medals. Athletes may have different ideals. We should know their true feeling.”