Tokyo 2020: 'We should be here', Seb Coe says as Covid cases surge in Japan amid Olympics

Despite Covid concerns from the Japanese public about the Tokyo Olympics, Seb Coe says it is right that the games should happen

It is right for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to go ahead despite opposition from Japanese people, former track and field athlete Sebastian Coe has said, adding he fears some sports would disappear if not for funding from the games.

Lord Coe, who is also president of international track body World Athletics, said he believes organisers have done everything possible to deliver the games safely and securely.

He told ITV News: "We should be here. I think we're here respectfully."

He added: "Of course, there has been some opposition, but I always sensed that once we got into the sport, that opposition wouldn't completely disappear, but I think now people focused on the celebratory nature of the sports.

"I do think it's important for athletes, 70% of the athletes that are here are only going to get one bite at this."

Some sports might disappear without funding from the Olympics, Seb Coe said

Addressing the financial importance of the games, Lord Coe said: "We shouldn't be naive or coy about this. The financial background to these games is very important.

"It's important to international federations.

"There are many international federations that rely almost entirely on that share of broadcast revenue. But let me just remind everybody that broadcast revenue in large part funds the development programme, it identifies young talent in a whole range of sports.

"I do fear that there are some sports that really wouldn't just struggle, might actually disappear if that funding isn't available."

A newspaper is held up in protest outside the Olympic Stadium ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. Credit: Mike Egerton/PA

Covid-19 cases in Tokyo have surged to record-breaking numbers amid the Games.

Japan has kept its cases and deaths lower than many other countries since the start of the pandemic, but its seven-day rolling average is growing and it now stands at 28 per 100,000. In Tokyo, the infection rate is 88 per 100,000 people.

Prompted about Covid-19 concerns, Lord Coe said although he was not sure if the Olympics would have a detrimental effect on Japan's infection rates, he does listen to scientists.

Speaking about the hundreds of track and field events that have been organised over the last year-and-a-half, of which two have been world-type championships, Lord Coe said: "Not a single large sporting event in the Olympic world has been a super spreader."

No one can replace Usain Bolt, says Lord Coe Credit: Stephen Pond/PA

The former runner said although it was "inevitable that (the Olympics) doesn't quite have the same spirit", the Games "has lifted spirits and lifted spirits at a really difficult time for people".

Commenting on the fact that this is the first Olympics without Usain Bolt, he said no one could replace Bolt and every athlete is different.

He continued: "We've got some outstanding young talent and I think nobody is going to be a Usain Bolt overnight but I think at the end of these championships, I think the world will know a lot more about those competitors that are going to be performing well here."

Asked if athletes having to quarantine might compromise the integrity of sporting events, Lord Coe said: "We've had great sporting events. We've had European football championships, where players had to withdraw or sit out a few days with quarantine.

"It's what people have got used to. It's not ideal but I don't think it questions the integrity of the competition, I think the competition will be fantastic and I pay particular tribute to the athletes because they've shown buckets of resilience in the last year or so, they've shown fortitude.

"Their performances in track and field, there's been no diminution in that. In fact, we've seen some performances that frankly are jaw dropping and I see no reason why that shouldn't continue into these championships."