Going ahead with the Tokyo Paralympics next year will not be dependent upon whether or not a COVID-19 vaccine is available, the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) President Andrew Parsons maintains.
Speaking to insidethegames ahead of the one-year-to-go marker for the re-scheduled Games tomorrow, Parsons said the concept that the event would stand or fall by whether a vaccine was available was "a little bit wrong".
He nevertheless added that the IPC was planning for scenarios in which the Games did and did not take place.
"I am positive about the possibility of having the Games next year," he said.
"I think that some of the sport events going on round the world at this moment like the UEFA Champions League, the NBA (National Basketball Association) and other football leagues gives encouragement because we are also learning from that and what they are doing.
"Of course we know the difference in the size and magnitude of the events – in the Paralympics we have 4,350 athletes which is different from eight football teams in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in Portugal.
"But there are some concepts that I think we can learn from them.
"No-one really knows the answer to your question.
"It is unpredictable at this point in time.
"But when people say 'we need a vaccine' – I think what we need is to say we need to have the virus controlled, we need to have the pandemic under control.
"Of course the vaccine will be the ultimate solution – or rather the vaccines, because you have multiple organisations trying to come up with them.
"But we may have scenarios where, because of the natural development of the pandemic, the numbers will go down.
"And when we take counter-measures we will be able to provide a safe environment for the athletes and everyone involved in the Games.
"So I think when people talk about the vaccine, yes, the vaccine is the strongest solution.
"But I think the concept is a little bit wrong.
"We need to have the virus, the pandemic, under control, or even better we need to provide a safe and healthy environment for the athletes and everyone involved in the Games.
"Some other measures can help in a scenario where we don't have as many cases around the world as we have now.
"But without the vaccine, could we hold the Paralympics Opening Ceremony tomorrow?
"The answer is no of course.
"With the level of the pandemic in the world it is impossible to think of organising and holding events like the Paralympics in the current circumstances.
"We are planning for every possible scenario – when it comes to the Games, when it comes to what will happen with the Paralympic Movement in the case that we don't have the Games.
"So I am positive, but realistic."
Parsons added that the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation has a deadline of August 31, 2021 to align its rules with the IPC Code on classification and regain the sport's place in the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
For full interview with Parsons see today's Big Read here.