IOC President Thomas Bach has thanked IFs for "giving proof" the Tokyo 2020 Olympics can be held safely, despite the pandemic ©SportAccord

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has thanked international sports federations (IFs) for "giving proof" that the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games can be organised safely despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a pre-recorded message played today at the opening of the virtual IF Forum, Bach said that since last year IFs had collectively organised "over 420 World Cups and World Championships with a participation of cumulatively over 51,000 athletes".

He added: "In doing so you have demonstrated that sports competitions can be organised safely even under current restrictions.

"Your collective experience gives all of us confidence in the Olympic Games 2020, because you gave proof that large international sports events can be organised successfully while safeguarding the health of everyone.

"And you accomplished this without having access to vaccination, from which we in the Olympic community can greatly benefit at the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games 2020.

"For example, over 70 per of the athletes and officials have already been vaccinated or will be vaccinated before the Games.

"This number will even continue to grow as we approach the Games with the many new and ongoing efforts in this regard, including offers from three different vaccine producers to the IOC for Olympic participants.

"We can only encourage all of you to continue these efforts, because vaccination is not only about protecting yourselves and protecting your athletes, it's also a demonstration of respect and solidarity with our Japanese hosts.

"We are entering the final length ahead of these postponed Olympic Games.

"Just like the athletes preparing for these Games with so much concentration and focus, we are also getting ready for this final sprint.

"In this final stretch our top priority continues to remain the organising of safe and secure Olympic Games for everyone - the athletes, and all participants as well as our gracious hosts, the Japanese people.

"This is why, together with all our Japanese friends and partners we have put in place comprehensive COVID-19 countermeasures to ensure that the athletes of the world can come together in a safe environment for everyone."

Raffaele Chiulli, the President of both SportAccord, which runs the IF Forum, and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), also addressed delegates.

"In many ways the pandemic has forced the world to stand still for a long period of time over the past year and a half, but as we all know, standing still is not an option for sport and for International Federations," he said.

"IFs have a responsibility to adapt and evolve to difficult circumstances, to protect the interests of their sport, and to explore new strategies for the benefit of current and future generations.

"And this is a responsibility that you have all taken forward with great energy.

"Today as we connect with each other from across the world we can also recognise that the 'new normal' is finally on the horizon."

In a keynote address, World Health Organization (WHO) director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "I have been encouraged to see some sporting events and leagues returning in recent months, often with limited spectators and special arrangements for athletes.

"WHO is committed to working in solidarity with organisers, athletes and fans to address public health risks so that sports can continue safely.

"Sports bring us closer as a global community, and it is this same spirit of solidarity that will help us overcome the pandemic and build a healthier world for all."

The IF Forum has brought together more than 300 leaders from more than 125 IFs, to explore the theme of "Lessons We Are Learning from a Global Crisis and How Sport and Society Can Emerge Stronger".

Presentations, updates, case studies and panel sessions are part of the schedule.

H.E. Ban Ki-moon, the eighth secretary general of the United Nations and the chair of the IOC's Ethics Commission, highlighted the UN's recent adoption of a resolution for sport to enable sustainable development.

"This resolution is significant," he said.

"As it not only recognises the important role of sport, it also serves as an important mechanism towards our post-pandemic recovery.

"One of the valuable lessons we can take from this crisis is that the world needs more solidarity, and the world of sport has been a beacon of light to guide us forward."