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  • Tours Bring 2020 Venues into Focus for NOCs


    (ATR) – On a day so clear Mount Fuji was visible, NOC visitors got a good look at Tokyo 2020 venues.

    Hugh Graham and Owen Lewis of Cook Islands at Odaiba Marine Park (ATR)
    They praised the compactness of the venue plan and applauded the pace of construction.

    “Seeing the existing and the new, it’s a good mix,” Owen Lewis, secretary general of the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee, told Around the Rings. “Particularly around the water areas there’s lots of new construction. It’s got a great backdrop. The Olympic village is going to be amazing and everything’s pretty timely. I’m quite impressed.”

    He smiled.

    “It’s up to Cook Islands standards.”

    About 15 busloads left the Pamir Convention Center on the morning after the conclusion of the ANOC General Assembly. The tours lasting more than four hours were mostly drive-by -- with only two stops at the Odaiba Marine Park and overlooking the Olympic Village.

    Etisone Ed Imo Jr., president of the America Samoa National Olympic Committee, said he appreciated “just knowing where the places are at and they’re working on everything. You expect a lot from the Japanese and they’re pretty much prepared.”

    The NOC delegates, international federation officials and media saw 14 venues, including those for most of the biggest sports, as well as the Olympic Village and the Main Press Center. They also passed their hotel, the ANA Intercontinental, which brought murmurs of approval from delegates who spotted the Starbucks at street level.

    Guides also pointed out the Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Skytree and the Ginza district as tourist attractions.

    “I liked the venues very, very much,” said Nelia Demianets, a delegate from Ukraine. “I liked the city very much. It’s close together. I think it will be one of the best Games.

    “Everywhere it is clean. It’s new. It looks very, very nice.”

    Hugh Graham, president of the Cook Islands NOC, walked to edge of Tokyo Bay to inspect the water during the stop at Odaiba Marine Park, where marathon swimming and triathlon will be held.

    Tour Group looking at the Olympic Village (ATR)
    “It looks clean, better quality than Rio,” he said. “There were a lot of concerns, not just from our sailors, but also from other sailors.”

    Noting the ducks on the water, he added, “There’s wildlife there, so that’s a good indicator as well.”

    Sometimes the tour participants had to use their imaginations. The first venue, the Aomi Urban Sports Park (3x3 basketball and sports climbing), is currently a parking lot.

    The future site of cycling BMX and skateboarding, the Ariake Urban Sports Park, is a field of dirt.

    But there was active construction at other venues, particularly the Ariake Tennis Park, Tokyo Aquatics Center and Olympic Stadium.

    A country known for its cranes in artwork has dozens of cranes hovering over construction that isn’t confined to Olympic venues.

    “They’re well on their way with regard to preparation,” Cora Hepburn, who will be chef de mission for the Bahamas, told ATR. “As far as their deadlines, it seems as if it’s possible. I was pleased with what I saw.”

    Especially compared to Rio, venues are much closer together.

    “It’s a relief,” Hepburn said. “Normally at these Games, you have to travel so far to get from one venue to the next venue and I think because of the closer proximity to each other, it should be a much better Olympics.”

    Written by Karen Rosen in Tokyo

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