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IOC warns Tokyo 2020 to expect increased scrutiny

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has warned Tokyo 2020 that organisers of the summer Olympic Games should be prepared for intensified scrutiny of their preparations following concerns levelled by International Federations (IFs) last week.

Speaking today (Monday) at the start of a two-day project review in the Japanese capital, IOC vice-president and chairman of the 2020 Coordination Commission, John Coates (pictured), said expectations have been raised following Pyeongchang’s successful staging of the 2018 winter Olympics.

Last week’s SportAccord Convention in Bangkok saw Tokyo 2020 criticised by a number of IFs, with World Sailing to the fore amid claims that preparations for its events are at least one year behind, with the first test competition scheduled for September at Enoshima Yacht Harbor.

With the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) set to stage a series of meetings in Tokyo in November, Coates said Tokyo 2020 must prepare for the spotlight to intensify. “Remember, we have 206 National Olympic Committees coming here in November and they're not going to hold back,” he said, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo. “They're going to want answers so you have to be prepared to answer those questions when they're raised.

“If you don't, these are the things that can impact the confidence of your stakeholders and the ability to host the games, and that's very hard to come back from once that momentum starts to build. When these questions come, they're going to be answered.”

Coates added: “This project review comes off the back of a very, very, very successful Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, so the bar's just been raised a bit higher for you. We are now – you are now – into the operational phase of the preparation, test events, some of them happening this summer.

“We also enter a phase where questions from stakeholders become very pragmatic and very urgent, in particular in areas such as the field of play, accommodation, transport, things that affect the competition and the athletes.”

Coates also urged Tokyo 2020 not to focus its attention too greatly on cost cutting efforts. In December, the local organising committee revealed a Y150bn (€1.12bn/$1.33bn) reduction in its budget.

The release of the second edition of the budget came a year after Tokyo 2020 formally confirmed its budget plans for the first time. Tokyo 2020 has since been engaged in continued efforts to cut costs, encouraged by the IOC to do so in order to attract future Olympic Games bidders.

The latest overall Games budget totals Y1.35tn, a reduction of Y150bn compared to version one, and Y35bn less than the interim figure indicated in the ‘Overall Division of Roles and Allocation of Costs’ agreement reached in May 2017 between Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), the Japanese Government and local governments of cities and prefectures hosting events.

Coates added, according to Reuters: “It is not just about saving you money. It is about a more efficient delivery of the Games and utilising the knowledge of your stakeholders. I hope, and I will stress this many times, that you approach it from that aspect, not just saving money.”