(ATR) IOC president Thomas Bach visited the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village and Olympic Stadium, in addition to meeting with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, on his second full day in the Japanese capital.
Bach and Morrison discussed the significant role of sport during the coronavirus crisis and the importance in which it can play in the recovery from the virus, among other topics during the morning meeting.
"They talked about the unifying mission of the IOC and the Games, and the importance and need for the IOC and the Games to have political neutrality," said the IOC’s Tokyo 2020 coordination commission chairman and Australian NOC president John Coates.
"Prime minister Morrison reiterated the full support of the Australian government for the Brisbane and Queensland’s candidature for the 2032 Games, the full support," Coates said.
Bach and Coates visited the future Olympic and Paralympic Village in the afternoon accompanied by Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori and chief executive officer Toshiro Muto. They were greeted by Olympic Village mayor Saburo Kawabuchi, deputy mayor Haruki Kitajima and general manager Takashi Kitajima.
The village is set to house some 10,000 athletes and coaches during the Games next summer. Health and safety measures to combat the novel coronavirus will include the establishment of a new outpatient facility.
"This is the place to be," Bach told Japanese TV crews upon getting his first glimpse of the future Tokyo 2020 Athletes Village.
Also joining the group were Japan Olympic Committee Athletes Commission member and two-time Olympic fencer Kenta Chida, two-time Olympic triathlete Ai Ueda and three-time Paralympian in para-badminton Sarina Satomi.
After visiting athlete accommodations and taking in views across Harumi Waterfront towards Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge, the contingent made the short eight kilometer (five mile) trip northwest to Olympic Stadium.
Tokyo Olympic Stadium, with a capacity of 68,000 spectators, will be the home for the opening and closing ceremonies, in addition to athletics events and soccer matches. The stadium – on the site of the old stadium used when Tokyo previously hosted the 1964 Summer Games – was completed last November.
"Inspirational, authentic, already atmospheric even nine months before the opening ceremony," Bach said, after taking a stroll alone along the stadium track.
The IOC president, making his first visit to Japan since the global Covid-19 outbreak, told reporters on Monday "we are looking at a reasonable number of spectators at the time of the Games."
Japanese track and field athletes competed at Tokyo’s National Stadium in late August at a Golden Grand Prix meet, an event held without fans.
"Of course, everybody in the Olympic Games would like a full house, a full-capacity stadium, but the top priority of the IOC and the organizing committee has always been, and remains, to offer a safe environment – also for spectators," Bach said.
Bach and Coates will conclude the four-day visit, joined by Mori and Muto, for a closing IOC-IPC Project Review press conference on Wednesday evening, Nov. 17. International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons is expected to participate via teleconference.
Written by Brian Pinelli
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