Tokyo 2020 organising committee’s plans to further slash the Games’ budget have raised concerns about the preparations for the Olympic Games next year.
Several international federations like sailing, judo, tennis and triathlon have urged the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to refocus their efforts in key operational areas such as accommodation, transportation, test events and event presentation.
World Sailing chief executive Andy Hunt, according to media reports, had led criticism of preparations at last year’s General Assembly in Bangkok. Admitting that improvements had been made, Hunt has also stressed that several areas still required solutions over operational readiness, accommodation and provisions for athletes at venues.
“Some of the issues I raised have been resolved, but 12 months on key issues remain open,” he told the General Assembly. “Firstly, operational readiness of the Organising Committee for the both the test events and the Olympic Games, given that in many cases the test events are being delivered by third parties and not the Organising Committee.
“We are concerned as to how you will gain any delivery expertise this year, when you have outsourced the delivery of the test events to third party agencies. Additionally, the lines of accountability between the Organising Committee and the agencies do not appear to be clear.
“Accommodation remains a major concern, the hotels appear overpriced and Tokyo 2020 do not appear to have secured enough reasonably priced accommodation, particularly in satellite venues. We are also extremely concerned about the service levels being proposed for athletes at venues,
“For example in sailing, not hot food for the athletes in the venues, a lack of shade and water provision and medical services not matching athlete needs. These matters need to be urgently addressed and rethought.”
The concerns were raised after Andrew Ryan, the executive director of ASOIF, revealed that Tokyo 2020 organisers were planning significant cuts – up to 80% – to the budget earmarked for sports presentation with outdoor sports likely to be hit hardest, states an insidethegames report.
The Tokyo 2020 organising committee’s overall budget stands at a reported US$12.6 billion, but venue capacities for some sports have been reduced in order to cut costs and ease transport in the Japanese capital.
The International Judo Federation has revealed they had approved a brand identity for the Games in January, but the proposal had since been changed.
“What we have received now is less than a third and it is shockingly poor,” Larisa Kiss, director of the IJF Presidential office, told the meeting. “We understand the budget cuts, but we find this slightly exaggerated and we do not want to be in the same situation as Rio 2016 when the look was quite cheap. We have events in Tokyo every year, where the venue looks much better than we are being proposed now.
“It would be a pity to have a yearly IJF event look better than the Olympics.”
International Tennis Federation chief operating office Kelly Fairweather urged organisers not to view sport presentation as a cost. “The spectator experience is so, so important,” Fairweather said. “I would urge you not to look at this as a cost. You spend all this money on construction and getting the Games ready, then cut budgets at the last minute. That is not going to be the best way to showcase the Games, your country and city. It is not worth it at all.”
Tokyo 2020 were requested to have more collaboration with International Federations and not adopt a one size fits all policy for sport presentation, due to their individual needs.
“We have counted on the assistance of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government,” said Hide Nakamura, Tokyo 2020 Games delivery officer. “Because of some restrictions, we now cannot count on their money. In addition, some of our organising committee think of it just as a decoration. But we understand it is not just a decoration but a very important part of the Games.
“We will have discussions with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and IOC to discuss the look of the Games. We have always been an athlete-first Games. We ensure the service level for the athletes.”
Tokyo 2020 also acknowledged not everyone in their Organising Committee had experience of staging sport events and promised they were working to integrate international staff to aid the process.