The largest-ever General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees convened in Tokyo on Wednesday with preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in the Japanese capital among the items to be discussed.
The two-day event at a Tokyo hotel opened with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivering an address to the more than 1,400 representatives from all 206 NOCs, the International Olympic Committee, international sports federations and Games organizing committees.
«We’re in this together as Team Japan, working to create a safe and secure Games, one that will be pleasing and attractive for all,» Abe said.
«All of Japan will welcome international visitors with the ultimate ‘omotenashi’ hospitality spirit,» he said.
In his opening remarks IOC President Thomas Bach praised the host city for its exceptional preparedness with less than two years until the Games begin.
(Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) shakes hands with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach)
«Tokyo 2020 promises to be an excellent Olympic Games from the organizational point of view, from the engagement point of view and from the atmosphere point of view,» Bach said.
«I do not remember — and I have some experience with Olympic Games — but I do not remember any host city which was so far in its preparations two years before the Games than Tokyo. You can feel this power the Japanese people have embraced and how much they are looking forward to this.»
In Wednesday’s morning session, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah reiterated his decision to temporarily step down as ANOC president amid allegations of forgery. Last week, the Kuwaiti suspended himself from his 26-year IOC membership.
Consequently, the scheduled executive elections are expected to be postponed pending Sheikh Ahmad’s legal hearings in Switzerland. Robin Mitchell of Fiji has assumed temporary leadership of the umbrella organization.
The assembly also heard presentations from the two remaining bidders for the 2026 Winter Games — Stockholm and Italian joint bidders Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo — following withdrawals from five other candidates including the Japanese city of Sapporo.
The representatives of the Italian bid emphasized how 92 percent of the venues already exist or will be temporary, in addition to a high approval rate among Italian citizens. Stockholm, on the other hand, introduced its rich experience of hosting international sports events and the popularity of winter sports in the region.
On Thursday, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee will give a report on the status of the host city’s preparations amid an intense period of Olympic activity in the capital.
The ANOC event will be followed by an IOC executive board meeting on Friday and Saturday, before the IOC Coordination Commission reviews Tokyo 2020’s progress from Monday through Wednesday.
Last Saturday, Bach accompanied Abe on a visit to Fukushima Prefecture, which was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, and will host baseball and softball during the 2020 Games.
All — Kyodo News+