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‘Answer questions’: Tokyo 2020 warned by Olympic bosses

The IOC’s John Coates has told organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Oympics to ‘answer questions’. AFP
The IOC’s John Coates has told organisers of the 2020 Tokyo Oympics to ‘answer questions’. AFP

‘Answer questions’: Tokyo 2020 warned by Olympic bosses

Tokyo Olympic organisers were given a sharp reminder on Tuesday to raise their game after complaints from several international sports federations about preparations for the 2020 Summer Games.

IOC coordination commission chief John Coates warned that as the spotlight falls on Tokyo after a successful Winter Games in Pyeongchang earlier this year, Olympic stakeholders would become increasingly impatient for answers.

“You are the next host city so the urgency is quite clear to us,” Coates told a news conference in Tokyo.

“It is very important that when you do presentations, you just have to answer the questions and be forthright in doing so,” he added. “It might not always be in your nature, but the questions are going to come.”

More than 200 national Olympic committees will visit Tokyo in November, but a handful of sports federations have already expressed concerns over Tokyo’s preparations, most recently at a SportAccord meeting in Bangkok earlier this month.

Coates played down the extent of those fears, claiming they were limited to judo, sailing and triathlon.

Triathlon officials remain worried about high levels of bacteria detected last year at the 2020 Olympic venue, he confirmed.

“Triathlon was still concerned about water quality,” said Coates.

“We received a presentation about experiments that will take place for better screening of the water.

“There were concerns expressed by judo as to why their 2019 world championships would not be used as a test event. I think they are going to be used, so perhaps there hasn’t been close enough liaison.”

Embarrassing blunders

Coates insisted questions raised by sailing officials boiled down to a potential clash with local fisherman.

“I think it was to do with the fishermen there and how the fishing would impact on the boats as they were training in that area,” he said.

“I’m assured that those matters are under control, or being got under control or certainly receiving attention.”

Tokyo’s Olympic organisers have faced criticism over a series of embarrassing public relations blunders since beating Madrid and Istanbul for the right to host the 2020 Games.

Most notable was the bungled rollout of the Olympic stadium in 2015 when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ripped up plans for the venue because of public fury over its $2 billion price tag.

After being subsequently ordered to slash costs, Tokyo organisers announced a cut of $1.4 billion in the budget last December, bringing the overall bill to 1.35 trillion yen ($12.5 billion).

Pointing to the success of Pyeongchang Olympics, where North and South marched together at the opening ceremony, Coates refused to politicise North Korea’s possible participation at Tokyo 2020.

But he said he was aware of the emotive issue of Japanese abducted by the North.

“I understand the terrible pain that those who were taken away and those that were left behind have experienced,” he said.

“But there’s an obligation on a host government to allow free access to all delegations, athletes and their officials who are accredited for the Games.”

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