When the Olympic movement faces its biggest challenge during this dreadful pandemic situation, influential official John Coates, who heads the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Coordination Commission for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, believes it will surely happen.
John Coates speaks about Tokyo Games
The 70-year-old Australian relinquishes there is suspicion because of the continuing spread of the virus but believes it is vitally valuable that the Games go ahead.
“We owe it to the athletes to make sure this happens and a generation of athletes don’t miss the opportunity of the Games,” the IOC vice president told Reuters in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
“I’m putting a lot of work into it and my gut feeling is yes, we will (have an Olympics next year). The crowd are an important part of it and it is very much in our planning to maintain that,” he added.
To compensate the raised costs caused by the suspension of a Games, the IOC and organisers have come up with more than 200 measures to facilitate the Olympics.
“Not all will be adopted because we have to make sure they don’t affect the athletes and the sports and that they are acceptable to both sides, but we’re working through them,” Coates said.
“That will now be three speeches at the start of the session,” said Coates. “And that might save you half a million dollars,” he added.
Furthermore, Coates said that the simplification of the Games was very much in line with IOC President Thomas Bach’s “Agenda 2020” project. The aim of the project to make hosting the Olympics cheaper after the 2014 Sochi Olympics rode up a bill of $60 billion.
“What we’re having to do now, sure, it’s taking it to a new degree but it’s the intention of the thinking (of Agenda 2020),” Coates said.
“Some of those areas could well further reduce the complexity, and thus the cost, of hosting Games in the future. That’s the opportunity. I’m actually amazed, from the day the decision was made to postpone, the enthusiasm and the attitude of just getting on with it are quite remarkable. They’ve maintained their motivation. I’m very, very impressed … This is a challenge they didn’t anticipate and they’re just getting on with it,” he added.
While not needing to underplay the crises, he thought his close ally Bach’s obligation to fixing the status quo would make it easier for the Olympic movement to enduring the crisis.
“In terms of the challenges I think we’re in a better position because when Bach came in, his mantra was ‘change or be changed’,” Coates concluded.