The International Olympic Committee’s co-ordination commission, led by Australia’s John Coates, has concluded its first talks with organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Coates toured the venue sites for the games and met with members of Tokyo’s organising committee during a three-day visit to the Japanese capital.
“We were very impressed with everything that was reported to us and everything that we saw,” Coates said.
Coates praised the appointment of 10 women among the Tokyo organising committee’s 34-member executive board, and called for further efforts toward diverse representation in the Olympic preparations.
Tokyo’s Olympic committee, headed by 76-year-old former prime minister Yoshiro Mori, had come under scrutiny for the lack of female and younger members on the executive board.
“We congratulated president Mori on the composition of the executive board,” Coates said. “We were particularly pleased to see the addition of 10 women and the inclusion of a total of seven Olympians on the board. Diversity and gender balance is very important to us.”
The co-ordination commission serves as a link between the various Olympic arms and Tokyo’s organising committee, and will hold periodic meetings as preparations continue.
The 2020 Olympics are being billed as the hope for revival for a nation that has been stagnant for decades and has been rocked by natural and manmade disasters in recent years, in particular the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
“We certainly share the vision of the organising committee to give hope to those families affected by the disaster through sport,” Coates said. “That wasn’t discussed here but that’s a given.”
For Japan, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Games are a nostalgic flashback to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics that were so critical in stimulating new infrastructure and modernisation.
Coates said the reintroduction of baseball and softball as Olympic events for the 2020 Games was not discussed during the visit, but that the issue is “on the table” at the IOC and should be concluded at the IOC’s extraordinary session in Monaco in December.