Tokyo's 2020 preparations draw praise

Fri Apr 4, 2014 5:29am EDT

A visitor takes photos of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building illuminated in the Olympic colors before an event titled ''Tokyo 2020 Host City Welcoming Ceremony'', upon the delegation's return, in Tokyo September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Issei Kato

A visitor takes photos of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building illuminated in the Olympic colors before an event titled ''Tokyo 2020 Host City Welcoming Ceremony'', upon the delegation's return, in Tokyo September 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Issei Kato

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(Reuters) - The IOC's Coordination Commission has praised Tokyo's early preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics, highlighting the financial planning and diversity of local organizers after a three-day visit to the Japanese capital.

Commission chairman John Coates headed the visit, which was the first working-level talks between the Tokyo organizing committee and the IOC's coordination body.

"We're very, very impressed and very pleased with the progress to date, and look forward to working with Tokyo 2020 in what, so far as I'm concerned, is a partnership," Kyodo news quoted Coates as telling reporters in Tokyo on Friday.

He described as "realistic and achievable" the earmarked revenue streams that will be needed to cover the estimated $3.4 billion Games budget.

Coates and other IOC officials toured existing venues and were taken to sites that have been marked out for new venue construction.

"At this stage I don't see any challenges - what I see is opportunities in terms of the legacies that can be left in encouraging more Japanese to participate in sport," Coates said.

The coordination commission will assist Tokyo as it builds towards the 2020 Games, serving as a link between the IOC and the local organizing committee.

Coates also commented on local organizers appointing 10 women to the 34 member executive board and called for more work to be done to bring more diversity in Olympic preparations.

Tokyo pitched a financially solid bid to revamp part of the city with the slogan 'Discover Tomorrow' and the pledge to create a new generation of young Olympic fans in the sports-mad nation.

However, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshi Mori had to fend off suggestions earlier this year that organizers were a Japanese-only-speaking ageing male club.

Mori said organizers and the coordination commission were on the same page.

"Team Coates and Team Mori are on the same vessel for the next six years, and will continue to row in the direction of 'Sport for Tomorrow' as advocated by the Japanese government," Mori said.

Coates added that while discussions did not include the possibility of baseball and softball being brought back to the Olympic program for the Tokyo Olympics, he said the issue was "on the table" and a decision should be made by the IOC's extraordinary session in December.

(Writing by Peter Rutherford in Seoul; Editing by John O'Brien)

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