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  • Top Story Replay: Tokyo 2020 CEO 'Very Confident'


    Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori, IOC CoComm chair John Coates and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto during virtual press conference in April. (Tokyo 2020)
    (ATR) Tokyo 2020 chief executive officer Toshiro Muto fully supports IOC coordination commission chair John Coates and his recent statement that next summer’s Olympic Games will “take place with or without Covid.”

    However, the Japanese sports leader would not entirely commit to the same guarantee.

    “We are very confident that we are on the same page and of course the chair Coates’ remarks are based on the pre-condition that water tight measures against Covid-19 are fully deployed for next year’s Olympic Games.”

    Muto addressed media in the Japanese capital and roughly 250 virtually during a 90-minute news conference following a Tokyo 2020 Executive Board meeting on Tuesday. The EB convened in advance of a coordination commission meeting with Coates and the IOC on Sept. 24-25.

    “We had a very vigorous discussion especially about the simplification of the Games and countermeasures against Covid-19,” Muto said.

    Muto noted that informing and addressing athlete concerns over potential countermeasures leading up to and upon their arrival for the Tokyo Games remains a top priority.

    “The athletes are really concerned about this situation under the coronavirus pandemic,” Muto said. “They all committed to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but what if they become in close contact with an infected person.

    “We should be able to thoroughly address this topic with the thoroughly examined countermeasures against the coronavirus.”

    He also said that he hopes athletes will play a pivotal role and help to express positivity that the Tokyo Games will happen in informing the general public.

    Responding to a question from Around the Rings regarding his level of satisfaction and insight gained regarding the allowance of limited spectators, along with various safety measures, at Nippon Professional Baseball and J1 League Soccer games, Muto revealed his recent visit to a baseball game.
    How many spectators will be allowed in the national stadium for the Opening Ceremony? (Tokyo 2020)

    “In Japan, the professional sports have up to 5,000 spectators, or 50 percent of the capacity, so recently I became one of those 5,000 spectators at a professional baseball stadium and I observed the very thorough countermeasures against Covid-19,” Muto said.

    “It was very informative information from that experience, having said that the 5,000 or the numbers presented by the various sport circles could be changed as the (Covid-19) situation changes in the future.

    “We are going to have a thorough discussion in the circle of the coordination meeting for Covid-19 countermeasures,” he added.

    Muto said that ongoing dialogue with the coordination commission has encompassed more than 200 proposed simplification items.

    “We bundled them in relevance an currently we are discussing like 50-60 items on the table in terms of size of the impact and also the magnitude of the significance,” he said.

    “Anything effective we will have a mutual agreement at the occasion of the Co-Comm on the 24th and 25th of September."

    Muto said the overall simplification of the Tokyo Games should be viewed in a positive light while furthering the ideals of the IOC’s Agenda 2020 and New Norm reforms.

    “We should be able to take advantage of this and it’s a great opportunity for all of us to go back to the origins of the Olympics and to become a brave runner to the new way of the Olympics and Paralympics of heading towards the next generation,” said the 77-year-old sports leader.
    Tokyo 2020 Field Cast volunteer uniforms (Tokyo 2020)

    Muto also noted that among 80,000 prospective volunteers, more than 80 percent still want to do it, while most of the others are still considering. He said “very few declined".

    “I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to them – the survey result is very encouraging and we’re committed to continued close communication with them, who are truly the face of the Games,” Muto said.

    While additional expenses caused by the delay of the Games and cost reductions continue to be evaluated, Muto said it is still too early to determine specific numbers.

    “In order to gain understanding from the Japanese citizens and also those in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, we should be able to openly share the information,” Muto noted, citing the end of 2020 as a possible timeframe.

    Tokyo 2020 organizers held their first of five meetings on Sept. 4, devising strategies to continue to assess possible countermeasures for athletes, games officials and spectators.

    Muto said he expects an interim summary and assessment before the end of 2020.

    “As we head towards the end of the year, I’m sure more vigorous discussions will happen, so we can clarify certain issues,” he said.

    Homepage photo: ATR

    Written and reported by Brian Pinelli

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