IOC President Thomas Bach chairs the IOC Executive Board meeting in Lausanne at Olympic House on June 10, 2020. (Photo by Greg Martin/IOC)
IOC President Thomas Bach chairs the IOC Executive Board meeting in Lausanne at Olympic House on June 10, 2020. (Photo by Greg Martin/IOC)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and organisers of the postponed Tokyo Games have agreed to “simplify and reduce the complexity of the Games” with a view to organizing a successful event at a reduced cost in the wake of the current global pandemic. Both parties have identified over 200 areas, in which the Games could be simplified.

IOC president Thomas Bach, fresh from an IOC Executive Board meeting, made this known to journalists in a teleconference on June 10, adding that there has been “great progress” in the preparation for the Games which were postponed to 2021 in March.

REPORT In Wednesday’s meeting, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) gave its report to the IOC Executive Board after which a joint task force formed by the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organisers released their proposed path forward to the Games in three documents – on positioning, principles, and a roadmap detailing a proposed schedule until the Games.

CEO of TOCOG, Muto Toshiro, said: “The Games will not be done with grand splendour,” while TOCOG president Mori Yoshiro noted: “The Olympics has always provided encouragement and hope but when you think about the current situation worldwide the splash and splendour we have been accustomed to may not be the most appropriate.”

SIMPLIFICATION Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi gave further details into some of the areas being considered for simplification, while emphasizing that the core of the Games, which includes the athletes, remains unchanged.

“We look at service levels. Which service levels are absolutely necessary versus those we can simplify. You can change a parking lot to a drop-off and it makes a huge difference in the space and in the security you need to have around your parking lot. We look into quantities. Do we need all the space? Do we need all the goods and services? Previous Games we’ve seen that sometimes we over-plan and under-consume.

“We have to look into activities. The ones that will raise emotions for people to come back and say this was outstanding, the best moment of my life. Operations, we have a set of test events that could not be delivered because of the COVID-19 crisis. Do we need all these test events? Venues, see where outside of the field of play we can simplify. Can we have less resources? The work is ongoing, it will take time, but the result will be positive.”

In addition, President Bach stated: “We have no stone to be left unturned, and to see first of all the reduction in service levels, the many ‘nice to have’ things in the Games.”

PARIS 2024 Meanwhile the IOC Executive Board has established key principles regarding the events and quotas for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, including a reduction in the overall athlete quota to 10,500. The figure would include athletes from new sports, Bach explained. “So we will have in Paris less athletes than we had, for instance, in Rio or we would have in Tokyo,” he said. Around 11,000 athletes are due to compete in Tokyo, but in the Olympic Charter, 10,500 is noted as the maximum.

Paris 2024 is expected to reflect the “full application of Olympic agenda 2020 for the first time” and embody “the new phase of the new norm”, which has been initiated because of the coronavirus crisis. It is also a priority to achieve gender equal participation across the Olympic Games at event and discipline level where possible.

The IOC emphasized that new events would not be considered if they do not have existing venues at Paris 2024 and priority would be given to events that can accommodate athletes within the sport’s existing quota allocation. The IOC Executive Board also announced that deadline to confirm Paris 2024 events and athlete quotas will remain in December. This includes the events in the additional sports proposed by the organizing committee; breaking, skateboarding, surfing and sports climbing.

RACISM At the start of the teleconference with the media, Bach reiterated the IOC’s stance regarding racism and inclusion. The IOC Executive Board had adopted a resolution during its meeting.

Bach read: “The International Olympic Committee (IOC) condemns racism in the strongest terms. The IOC stands for non-discrimination as one of the founding pillars of the Olympic Movement, which is reflected in the Olympic Charter, Fundamental Principle 6: ‘The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.’”

He added that the IOC Athletes Commission would work with its athletes representatives around the world towards finding a way for athletes to be able to “express their support for the principles enshrined in the Olympic Charter in a dignified way, including at the time of the Olympic Games and respecting the Olympic spirit”. He said there is a clear difference between the kind of support enshrined in the Olympic Charter and “potentially divisive demonstrations”, while refusing to make any comment regarding an athlete taking a knee in protest. “We are looking forward to the input from the IOC Athletes Commission on this topic,” he concluded.

INTERNATIONAL WEIGHTLIFTING FEDERATION Another issue that was discussed by the Executive Board was the McLaren Independent Investigation Report into the International Weightlifting Federation.

“What we can say now is that we will fully support the new leadership of the Weightlifting Federation and the acting president in her efforts to reform the governance of the Federation and also in her efforts to make the anti-doping system fully independent from the Federation,” Bach said.

The IOC also made it clear that it will not grant accreditation to any IWF official implicated in the scandal following the results of the IWF inquiry and such official would also not be accepted in the preparation meetings for Tokyo 2020.

President Bach, who stated that the IOC is “deeply concerned and shocked by the report” added: “Depending on the results of the findings of the IWF Oversight Commission, we reserve the right for very far-reaching measures, including but not limited to the question of weightlifting being on the programme of the Olympic Games.”

THE NBA Considering that the most successful basketball league in the world, the NBA is hoping to commence its new season in late 2020, its end of season play offs are expected to clash with next summer’s Games. This could mean that the USA would not send their best players to Tokyo next year and the situation might also affect other countries who have their best players in the NBA.

When asked if the IOC was going to negotiate with the NBA to avoid such a situation, Bach said: “We are in contact with FIBA and they are also in contact with the NBA. Both FIBA and the NBA are interested in making sure there won’t be any conflict with the dates of the Games. This is the information I have as of now.”

ELECTION OF NEW IOC MEMBERS World Athletics President Sebastian Coe is one of five candidates that were proposed by the Executive Board for election to become IOC Members. IOC President Thomas Bach said Coe had committed to addressing a conflict of interest which had previously prevented him from joining the organisation.

“Coe has committed himself to change his status within the company he is currently running as Managing Director to a passive position and that the necessary documentation will be provided to the IOC Ethics Commission by July 1, so because of the full confidence in our friend Seb Coe, they have decided to put the candidature subject, of course, to the delivery of such a documentation with which then the concerns of the IOC Ethics Commission would be gone.”

Among the five candidates, three are women, which would increase the female membership to 39. They are: Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Cuban Olympic Committee (COC) Board member Maria de la Caridad Colón Ruenes. The second man on the list is acting Mongolian National Olympic Committee President Battushig Batbold.

Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam – AIPS Media

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