Tokyo 2020 Evaluation Visit Kicks Off; Sport Takes Centre Stage

Tokyo, Japan – At a downtown Tokyo Hotel Monday a large crowd of Japanese journalists and photographers eagerly and excitedly grabbed photos and quotes from Japan’s national football hero and Olympian Homare Sawa.

The four-time Olympian and London 2012 Silver Medallist conveyed thoughts of her presentation to the IOC Evaluation Commission that has just kicked off crucial meetings in Tokyo at the Palace Hotel, minutes down the road. As she spoke, International and Japanese sport and government officials were still in a morning meeting discussing Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic bid and topics including the concept, vision, legacy, sport and venues.

The revered footballer captured the focus of the group that seemed much less interested about the immediate fact that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe along with Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose and Bid Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda were addressing Sir Craig Reedie and other members of the IOC’s team that will help drive the decision of whether Tokyo will host the Games in 2020, or if the honor will instead go to Istanbul or Madrid.

Sawa spoke of the emotions and nervousness that she experienced when she spoke to the high-level sport officials earlier in the day as part of the sport presentation. She also offered advice to other athletes who will be presenting later this week – but the actual content of the meeting is so top-secret, as per IOC regulations – that she couldn’t discuss the content of her presentation or any actual IOC reaction.

Beyond some published opening remarks by Tokyo 2020 officials, the meetings are well-secured and the information is sealed by the IOC until the Evaluation Commission publishes its official report in July. Media and photographers have no access to the meeting room and to help enforce that, official media facilities are housed kilometers away.

“We are eager to spend the coming days sharing our exciting vision.” Takeda said as he opened the meeting.

“In presentations in this room, on the site visits, and from all our speakers; including from the very highest levels of Government.”

“Personally, I am honoured that you, the IOC, are my first major international guests since I became Governor.” Inose, the popular Governor of Tokyo told the Evaluation Committee.

“I hope that I am able to host you many times in the coming years, and develop a positive and strong working relationship.”

Inose also noted to the Commission that he completed his first marathon last year at the age of 65.

Meanwhile, over three-hours into the highly-anticipated meetings with little substance to report besides the agenda and an official Tokyo 2020 video, Sawa was fielding so many questions from reporters, some who were almost giddy with excitement, that they had to be cut off when time ran out.

And with that the message was clear. Tokyo is a city that loves sport. Japan revels in the success of its athletes. And if those messages continue to rise above the politics and logistics that usually accompany the bid process, Tokyo will have succeeded with this Evaluation Commission visit.

On Monday afternoon, the Evaluation Commission will begin venue tours in the city, followed by three more days of the same.

scroll to top
%d bloggers like this: