Tokyo 2020: A View from the IOC

Dec. 1, 2016


On 30 November 2016, the Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) John Coates, who was visiting Tokyo in his role of supervising the planning and execution of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, spoke to members and guests at an exclusive event organised by the ACCJ and co-hosted by the BCCJ. 

Coates opened his speech by describing Japan as "a country bursting with innovation" and highlighted that the IOC is highly engaged to help make the Tokyo Olympics the most successful, technologically advanced, diverse and sustainable in history.

The speaker explained the current IOC reforms known as "Agenda 2020," which aim to keep the Olympics more sustainable, urge the use of existing facilities when possible — even in other cities or countries — if it makes financial and practical sense.

The IOC, said Coates, is working together with Tokyo to keep costs for the 2020 Summer Games significantly below $20 billion. Proposals being discussed include those made by the Tokyo government to move rowing and canoe/kayak sprint events to an existing course 400 km (250 miles) north of Tokyo, and using older facilities in the capital for volleyball and swimming.

Coates spoke about the recent decision made by the IOC to add baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing and surfing to the sports programme for the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. "Plans call for staging the skateboarding and sports climbing events in temporary "urban clusters", marking a historic step in bringing the Games to young people and reflecting the trend of urbanisation of sport."

Coates also emphasised the diversity and legacy value of adding these sports to the Tokyo Games. "The inclusion of the new sports will add 18 events and 474 athletes, with equal numbers of women and men for all sports except baseball/softball, which will have the same number of teams but different player totals, because softball teams have 15 players whilst baseball teams have 24. Tokyo 2020 will rely heavily on existing and temporary venues to stage the competitions."

The speaker discussed lessons learnt from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but explained that the Games in Tokyo did not face the same challenges, and praised the safety, security, democracy, and organisation of the Japanese capital. Coates spoke of the Games as "a unifying force, bringing people together in harmony."

In the subsequent question and answer session, Coats answered questions from the audience about the benefits of the Olympics for the city, the Paralympics, doping testing, security requirements and costs, the potential shortage of accommodation in Tokyo, and the effect of the summer heat and humidity on the athletes. Coats expressed his confidence that these concerns would not be an issue for Japan and that the partners involved in the delivery of the event already had plans in place to address all of these issues.

The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit independent international organisation made up of volunteers, which is committed to building a better world through sport. The IOC President presides over all its activities, while the IOC Session and Executive Board are responsible for taking the main decisions for the organisation.

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