International Olympic Committee (IOC) senior member Dick Pound said the Tokyo Games are still a go and sponsors are eager to see the delayed event go off without a hitch – that’s despite rampant local concerns about risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic as international athletes flood the city.

Pound, who competed for Canada in the 1960 Games, said sponsors are keen to support and be associated with the Games, but are not pressuring the IOC to take safety risks.

“Are [sponsors] interfering with health-related and organization-related aspects of the Games? No, they are not,” he said in an interview Thursday. “There’s a very affable separation between church and state.”

The top-tier global partners -- made up of 14 companies such as Coca-Cola and Samsung -- are providing US$500 million to the organizing committee’s budget for this year’s event, while 68 local sponsors have chipped in more than US$3 billion.

The Tokyo Games were postponed in March 2020 as travel restrictions were implemented around the world as COVID swept across borders. Despite ongoing discussions and even protests in Japan, the Games are scheduled to take place from July 23 to Aug. 8.

“We’ve been in constant touch with the public health authorities to make sure we’re getting the best scientific and medical advice,” Pound said.

“All [safety protocols] will be planned and executed by a very capable organizing committee on the ground.” 

The delayed Summer Games are set to cost US$15.4 billion, that’s almost US$3 billion more than initially forecasted.