Hula’s Talks: IOC VP Nicole Hoevertsz hopes more women in organizing committees will be Tokyo 2020 legacy

The IOC member from Aruba also discusses Covid-19, Los Angeles 2028 and her future political ambitions.

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Newly minted IOC Vice President Nicole Hoevertsz from Aruba believes that the Tokyo Games will deliver a valuable legacy for host country Japan – and become a blueprint for large-scale sporting events to follow.

Nicole Hoevertsz at IOC Session in Tokyo last month. (IOC)
Nicole Hoevertsz at IOC Session in Tokyo last month. (IOC)

Elected as one of four Vice Presidents at the IOC Session last month, Hoevertsz has been an IOC member since 2006 and served on its Executive Board since 2017. In an interview on Around the Rings founder Ed Hula’s ‘Tokyo Report’ podcast, Hoevertsz expressed hope that the Games’ world class venues, experience gained from organization and inclusion of women in leadership roles would continue to benefit Japan in the future.

“Apart from the venues… I think that one of the biggest legacies from the Tokyo Games is the investment in the human resources of the country and of the organizing committee, [from] what they have done in putting things together under these very difficult circumstances”, Hoevertsz said.

“I also hope one of the legacies of the Olympic Games is that you see a change, a shift towards the inclusion of more women in organizing committees”, she continued, praising the involvement of Seiko Hashimoto, President of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, and Mikako Kotani, the Games’ sport director. “I hope that it will not be something temporary but that women get the opportunity to present and really be part of Japan for the future.”

Women are traditionally underrepresented in political leadership both in Japan and international sports federations; with Hashimoto being only the second ever female President of an Olympic Organizing Committee. She took over the position in February to replace outgoing Yoshiro Mori, who resigned after making sexist comments.

Hoevertsz further noted that organizing committees of future Olympics and other multi-sport Games “really took notice of everything that Japan is doing”, and provided a glimpse into what kinds of COVID-19 prevention measures the IOC expects to see implemented.

“We know we have to be prepared for these previously unexpected developments, so we have to learn how to deal with it. I think the testing, maybe the mask wearing, all these different countermeasures may be part of the future organization of Games, so I’m very glad that these organizers were on site for the Tokyo Games so they could take notice and incorporate those measures in their organization themselves.”

As an Executive Board member of Panam Sports, Hoevertz revealed that “vaccination is probably going to be something that we will take as a requirement for people to take part” at this September’s inaugural Pan American Junior Games in Colombia.

Los Angeles 2028 Update

Hoevertsz at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (IOC)
Hoevertsz at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (IOC)

Hoevertsz is also the Chair of the IOC’s Los Angeles 2028 Coordination Commission that monitors the progress of the Games’ organization. In this capacity, she said that she was excited about the Organizing Committee’s progress so far, particularly with how they’ve secured outside funding for the Games and made significant use of existing venues.

“[The Organizing Committee] have been really quiet but working extremely hard, because Los Angeles is a privately funded Olympic Games, so no government financing. That meant that from very early on they needed to get that funding taken care of, and they’re doing an outstanding job”, Hoevertz declared.

“Every Games organizer has the big headache of constructing new permanent venues, LA doesn’t have that. That in itself is already a huge relief for the organizers, so instead of focusing on the construction of permanent venues, they can actually focus on the organization of the Games... They’re commercially focusing very much on generating revenue early on and they are very successful.”

Future of Traditional Sports in the Olympic Program

Reiterating the IOC’s emphasis on new, youthful events and making Games more economically viable for host cities, Hoevertsz was asked by Hula about future changes to the Olympic program, and whether more traditional Olympic sports could end up being removed as a result. Hoevertsz was noncommittal but indicated that evaluations would be made soon.

“To put together an Olympic program is not so easy. It’s not just a matter of OK, well this is an old sport. Let’s move it. There are other factors that are not just the bottom line. Relevance, the geographical practice of a sport, the gender equality factor, but there’s also tradition. I mean, the Olympic program definitely has a certain level of tradition. It goes back into history.”

“So all these factors are weighed in when the Olympic program is being made. And now, for the 2028 Olympic Games, we are going to evaluate after the Beijing Games and see how we move forward with the program”, Hoevertsz explained.

Presidential Aspirations?

While Hoevertsz is one of the IOC’s most powerful figures, and an opportunity to become the first female IOC President will avail itself in 2025, Hoevertsz insists she remains focused on her current role above all else.

“I was just recently elected as Vice President of the International Olympic Committee. That is something that I’m very, very grateful for and very privileged and very humbled to be elected to. I will be dedicated to that position for the coming years... I’m not focusing on anything in 2025 at this moment.”

“I’ve always been a person that – I’ve said these words and I’m going to repeat them – if it comes, it’ll come and if it doesn’t come, it doesn’t come. I’m not a person that plans these things ahead. I’m very honored to be going from one position to another, I’m very, very happy with everything that’s happening. I will work to the best of my abilities for these coming four years as the Vice President of the International Olympic Committee.”

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