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  • Fire Politicians from Tokyo 2020 -- Op Ed


    (ATR) A former executive with the Japanese Olympic Committee blames politics for troubles with the 2020 Olympics.

    Tokyo 2020 headquarters (Getty Images)
    Ryoichi Kasuga served as director of International Department of the Japanese Olympic Committee from 1978 to 1995. After retirement he started a sport consulting firm, Genki na Atelier, He is editor of the magazine "Sport Philosophy", Here is what he says:

    Reconstruction of the organizing committee for Tokyo 2020 is needed.

    That is what I believe as a former staff member of the Japanese Olympic Committee in Japan, as someone familiar with the inner circle of sport in Japan.

    This change is needed following the collapse of plans for the new National Olympic Stadium and the demise of the logo for the Tokyo Olympics.

    Many sports journalists said that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic bid was a success due to the credibility of the administrative abilities of Tokyo and Japan in comparison with other candidate cities. Instead, the unexpected happens, one after another. Is the legendary ability of Japanese sport administration in ruins?

    From my viewpoint, the problems of late relate to a lack of respect for both the Olympic Charter and the way Olympism has been cultivated by the Japanese Olympic Committee since it won independence from the Japan Sports Association in 1989.

    We are proud of the administration of the Olympic Movement carried out by the JOC, such as collaboration with the IOC for the IOC sessions Tokyo in 1990 and 1998. Japan helped fund the Olympic Museum in Lausanne in 1991. The JOC played a role in the reunification of the Olympic Council of Asia in 1992 and a fundraising campaign for war-torn Sarajevo in 1993. Then there is out leadership of the organization of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Sapporo and Nagano.

    That expertise in Olympic administration has been overlooked in the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee. Instead the expertise is political, with ex-Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori taking the lead. He is also former president of the Japan Sports Association.

    So far, only four staff members of the Japanese Olympic Committee have been involved in the administration of the organizing committee. But they are under control of senior staff dispatched from Tokyo Metropolitan Government or national sports federations.

    Yoshiro Mori (Getty Images)
    Also overlooked: Masato Mizuno, former vice president of the JOC and former president of Mizuno who has devoted himself globally to the sport and environment movement. He was part of the team that won the 2020 bid. Yet he has no position in the organizing committee.

    While the Olympic Charter says the responsibility of establishing an Organizing Committee falls to the national Olympic committee, Tokyo 2020 was founded under the leadership of Mr. Mori who has very tight connection with Japanese Government. It seems that he would like to exclude the power of Japanese Olympic Committee from the organization of Tokyo Olympics.

    When the Japan National Press Club invited Mr. Mori as a guest speaker on 22nd of July, he noted that the problems with the new National Stadium should be the business of Japanese Government and/or Tokyo Metropolitan Government. He said the organizing committee has nothing to say about the construction.

    And as if to prove that
    The author at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988 with IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch.
    politics rule for Tokyo 2020, Mori told the journalists that he hoped that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will hold his position on the occasion of Tokyo Olympics 2020.

    “I wish he will proclaim the opening of the Olympic Games 2020,” said Mori, apparently unaware that the Olympic Charter clearly states that the Olympic Games shall be proclaimed open by the Head of State of the host country. That is not Mr. Abe.

    In Japan, we have hosted three Olympic Games, Tokyo 1964, Sapporo 1972 and Nagano 1998. All three were opened by the emperor, the true head of state under the Olympic Charter. Not a prime minister.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Mori, may not understand the Olympic philosophy which advocates peace and opposes discrimination of any kind, such as race, sex, language, religion, politics, national or social origin. According to Olympism, sport must be beyond politics to make a more peaceful society.

    If the leader of Tokyo Olympics has no sense of the Olympic Movement, it will not be possible to realize the best possible management. I predict the serial mismanagement of the organizing committee will continue.

    For the sake of the success of the Tokyo Olympics, the Japanese Olympic Committee should lose no time to take over the leadership of the preparation for the Olympic Games. The JOC must reconstruct the organizing committee with a leader who knows Olympism. Not with a politician.

    Written by Ryoichi Kasuga

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