ASOIF: 'Unprecedented Preparation' for Tokyo 2020

(ATR) Sebastian Coe, Ugur Erdener and Nenad Lalovic re-elected to ASOIF Council during virtual general assembly.

(ATR) International Tennis Federation president David Haggerty posed the simple, but salient question: ‘What should IFs be doing to best prepare for Tokyo 2020?’ to ASOIF leaders at today’s 45th virtual General Assembly.

President Francesco Ricci Bitti advised that the technical side of preparations is nearly complete, and the playbooks are still a work in progress, however "the issue is there will be a reduction of services unlike in the past, but this will help the organizing committee to save money and be more effective."

Addressing Haggerty’s question about updates on spectators at events, Ricci Bitti said: "There are decisions that haven’t been taken, but I hope there will be some spectators, because spectators are an integral part of the competition."

The ASOIF president said the other primary area of concern remains negative public opinion about the Games in Japan.

"I am very confident that they will keep it under control," Ricci Bitti said, referring to Tokyo 2020 and the Japanese government.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe followed up on Haggerty’s question adding some strong comments and observations based upon his two visits to Tokyo, the most recent for a track and field test event last month.

"What the IFs can be doing is to make sure that we go into Tokyo as smoothly as possible," Coe said. "In terms of the protocol, planning and safety of our athletes, no stone is being unturned.

"The cumulative thousands of hours spent working toward the playbooks and understanding the challenges, it seems that this work is the best kept secret in Japan."

Coe said there needs to be far greater recognition for the work that has been accomplished by the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee.

"I cannot think of any other event that there has been put so much time into the safety of an event," said the World Athletics boss.

"These (Games) can be delivered safely – we all have examples of that," he said, noting the ongoing Judo World Championships in Budapest and the recent World Athletics Relays in Poland.

"It is really important that we get this message across – this is not 10,000 competitors descending on a city without forethought or a plan and not just to protect the athletes, but to protect the communities," Coe continued. "I think this will make the polling we wake up to a little more benign as we get closer to the Games."

Director general Andrew Ryan noted that in his 15 years at ASOIF, he has never witnessed the summer sport federations working as closely with the IOC than is the case with preparations for the postponed Tokyo Games.

"It is one of those peculiar things that one of the few advantages during this COVID period is the reduced traveling," Ryan said, noted that it is something that needs to continue to be explored.

"One of the benefits is that people have been stable in Lausanne, so there has been much more access between the federations, ASOIF and the IOC."

Ryan also emphasized the greater role that the IFs need to take for Tokyo 2020.

"The role of the international federations in delivering these events will be bigger than ever before," he said, while noting he is keeping an eye on the French Open where the amount of spectators will be increased to 35 percent capacity at Roland Garros over the coming days.

"We have the experience in delivering these events and the role is to be flexible. The IFs have the knowledge, know-how and the experience so they will play a big role."

Ryan also noted the absolute necessity in reducing IF staff attending Tokyo 2020 to only "essential operations roles". He said that including himself and Ricci Bitti, ASOIF will only send seven people to the Games.

Ricci Bitti, in response to Around the Rings, also elaborated on final preparations by the IFs with the Tokyo Games now less than two months away.

"We had qualification events this the last weekend and it went very well," noted the ASOIF president. "From our perspective, it is unprecedented how we prepare for these Games, so we are very positive and ready to work without international spectators.

"Basically, we are working in close cooperation with the IOC – our job is more technical, but we are confident."

Other items of business during the nearly two-hour virtual GA convening the 28 summer sport federations and five associated members included the re-elections of Coe, World Archery president Ugur Erdener and United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic for second terms as ASOIF Council members.

Ricci Bitti informed the Los Angeles 2028 Games sport program will be finalized in early 2022, while mentioning that the first coordination commission already took place last October.

The World DanceSport Federation, which will oversee ‘Breaking’ at Paris 2024 was voted in as an ASOIF associate member.

Two amendments to ASOIF statutes included continued inclusion of AIBA as an associate member, despite the IOC’s suspension of the body and increasing gender equality among delegates for the next General Assembly in 2022.

Written and reported by Brian Pinelli

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