Olympics-Tokyo can mark pandemic turning point despite concerns, says Swedish Olympic boss

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is seen through signboards, in Tokyo

By Philip O'Connor

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Tokyo Olympics can mark a turning point in the global COVID-19 pandemic, the CEO of Swedish Olympic Committee has said.

Speaking as they launched their apparel for the 2020 Games, Peter Reinebo said that the Swedes had confidence in Tokyo's ability to provide a secure bubble and adequate testing to avoid placing unnecessary strain on the Japanese healthcare system.

"I think that Tokyo 2020 and IOC (International Olympic Committee) have done a fantastic job in creating these bubbles and the testing programme in a way that feels were safe and secure in my eyes, and with the greatest respect for the worries that the Japanese feel," he told an online news conference.

"I think it could be so that Tokyo becomes a turning point in the global pandemic - at least, that is a positive way to think about it. We need other things to gather around, and the Olympics is one such opportunity," he added.

After a year of cancellations and postponements, fans are beginning to return to sporting events around the globe. However, many in Japan are opposed to the Games taking place while the pandemic is still ongoing, and Reinebo said he understood those concerns.

"The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have been incredibly focused all the time to create the best conditions for the teams and I think they have succeed very well in that. But even more importantly today is that the Olympic Games are carried out in a way so that they don't become an even greater strain than what it already is for the Japanese people," he said.

"Therefore it will be a lot about bubbles and a lot of fences and those are the conditions we have to adhere to, and we have to have great respect for the worries that the Japanese people have."

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor, additional reporting by Ilze Filks; Editing by Christian Radnedge)