IOC back in Tokyo as world prepares for next year’s Games

For the first time since February 2020, the IOC’s Coordination Commission Chair, John Coates, returned to Japan with IOC President Thomas Bach for the joint International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Tokyo 2020 Project Review.

The meetings, held between 16 and 18 November, reaffirmed the full commitment of all partners to deliver Olympic and Paralympic Games fit for a post-corona world next year. Speaking afterwards, Chair Coates said: “This is a very positive sign that we’ve been able to return to Japan at this point in preparations. Discussions over the last three days have reinforced our joint determination to hold safe and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Close collaboration and regular communications with our friends in Japan, partners across the world and the entire Olympic Movement have once again shown we are stronger together.”

He continued: “This solidarity and unity will help us deliver Games fit for a post-corona world, providing a light at the end of the dark tunnel following this incredibly difficult period for humanity. While the next few months will be crucial, remarkable progress has already been made and, with positive momentum, we will continue to support Tokyo 2020 throughout the upcoming challenges as we prepare to hold an unforgettable Games in 2021.”

The President of the IPC, Andrew Parsons, who joined remotely, added: “Never before in history has such a level of planning and preparation gone into the organisation of a major sport event. No stone is being left unturned as all partners work together to ensure safe, secure and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games next summer in Tokyo.

“This level of work and commitment by all Games delivery partners will not be in vain. After a terrible 2020, we are determined that 2021 will bring new hope. The Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be a celebration of human diversity and ability, a global showcase of resilience, and the starting point for a better, more inclusive post-corona world.”

Strong cooperation through regular forums such as the “Here We Go” and “All-Partner” task forces remains the driving factor behind Tokyo 2020’s progress. This has been evident in regular joint communications with stakeholders such as the recent Chef de Mission Webinars, IF Seminar, Virtual World Broadcasters Briefing and a Press Operations Update. 

All parties agreed on the importance of clear and timely communications over the coming months, with a project to develop a series of playbooks outlined during meetings. Created by the IOC, IPC and Tokyo 2020, these will be designed as guidelines for each stakeholder group and will include important information about the measures that will be in place and what it will mean for their Games experience.

A key element within these playbooks will be details of COVID-19 countermeasures. This topic was covered in great detail during the Project Review as work continues to identify optimal solutions to host the Games next year in a safe and secure environment, to protect both the local Japanese population and all visitors, including athletes, officials and spectators. 

Discussions on this subject focused on creating a toolbox of measures ready to implement depending on the situation next July. Updates were provided on the development of vaccines, testing and infection control, and also covered stakeholder journeys to Japan, during the Games and departure.

A key part of this process has been learning from the resumption of top tier sport across the world, with findings regularly shared amongst delivery partners. It was noted that sport’s return has also contributed to increasing confidence amongst stakeholders, particularly in Japan where, for example, professional football and baseball events have been welcoming thousands of spectators in recent weeks. 

This positive momentum was further illustrated earlier this month as the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), in partnership with the Japan Gymnastics Association, successfully delivered the “Friendship and Solidarity Competition”. This event welcomed athletes from four countries and over 2,000 spectators to the event held in Tokyo’s Yoyogi National Stadium, the venue for the handball, badminton and wheelchair rugby competitions during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

While continuing on the topic of health and safety, updates on heat countermeasures were provided following a number of tests in recent months. In addition, all parties reiterated their determination to explore further opportunities for optimisations and simplifications following the recent announcement of more than 50 measures that will deliver an estimated USD 280 million in cost savings from the operational budget.

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