SYDNEY: The Olympic movement faces its biggest challenge for four decades in getting a streamlined Tokyo Summer Games up and running next year but influential official John Coates believes it will happen.
Coates heads up the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Coordination Commission for the Tokyo 2020 Games, which were postponed until 2021 because of the global novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The 70-year-old Australian concedes there is uncertainty because of the continuing spread of the virus but thinks it is vitally important that the Games go ahead.
“We owe it to the athletes to make sure this happens and a generation of athletes don’t miss the opportunity of the Games,” the IOC vice-president said in an interview on Wednesday. “I’m putting a lot of work into it and my gut feeling is yes, we will [have an Olympics next year].”
While there will be changes to reduce the cost of the event, and others to ensure the health of athletes, Coates said the desire was still very much to have spectators in the stadiums.
“The crowd are an important part of it and it is very much in our planning to maintain that,” he added.
To offset the increased costs caused by the postponement of a Games that was already slated to run up a bill of $12.35 billion, the IOC and organisers have come up with more than 200 measures to simplify the Olympics.
Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2020