Fukushima Food, Mascot Designs Top Tokyo 2020 CoComm Visit -- Monday Memo

(ATR) Also: First Birmingham 2021 World Games inspection; India elects new Olympic leader.

(ATR) International Olympic Committee leaders begin a three-day inspection visit of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic preparations today in Japan.

The fifth Coordination Commission meeting is led by CoComm chairman John Coates. The 16-member commission includes new IOC vice president Anita DeFrantz and new Executive Board members Robbin Mitchell and Nicole Hoevertsz.

The commission will discuss the mascot selection process which recently shortlisted three designs. Voting by schoolchildren in Japan is now open and is expected to conclude by Feb. 22. The Olympic and Paralympic mascots receiving the most votes will be unveiled on Feb. 28.

"This is an innovative way of engaging the public in the Olympic Movement, especially the young children," said CoComm chairman John Coates. "Interest in the Games will only increase from here, especially as kids from more than 20,000 schools all over Japan begin voting on their favorite mascot today."

The visit will also showcase the recovery efforts of the Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi prefectures that were devastated by a nuclear accident caused by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Delicacies from these prefectures will be on display at the official delegate dinner on day two of the IOC inspection visit.

"The Reconstruction Agency and Tokyo 2020 decided to highlight local specialties from [the three] prefectures, all of which were affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake," Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya told Around the Rings.

The idea to serve products from the region to IOC members is the latest in a string of initiatives by Olympic organizers to demonstrate and support its recovery efforts.

Along with introducing local cuisine, Tokyo 2020 is utilizing Fukushima as a venue for parts of the baseball and softball Olympic tournaments, with organizers considering hosting the opening game in the region.

The dinner takes place on Dec. 12 and the CoComm will conclude on Dec.13.

First Birmingham 2021 World Games Inspection

International World Games Association President and IOC member Jose Perurena travels to Birmingham, Alabama this week to check on progress for the 2021 World Games.

The city is ramping up efforts to showcase the quadrennial multi-sport event that features sports with aspirations to join the Olympic program. The IWGA signed a memorandum of understanding with the IOC last year consolidating this position under Olympic Agenda 2020.

Perurena and his colleagues will travel to Birmingham from Dec. 14-17 with a "very comprehensive" agenda.

"The main objective is related to the Organizing Committee, the sports program and the sports that we can incorporate in a proposal from the city," said Perurena. "Also, we will visit all the sports facilities which are used in the program and of course we will have a meeting with Mayor Woodfin.

Birmingham elected new Mayor Randall Woodfin in November, but Perurena is not concerned with the political transition.

"I have not spoken personally with the Mayor Woodfin, but we are in permanent contact with his team," Perurena toldATR. "We know that the mayor is very excited about the Games."

Woodfin said in a statement that the Games"will have the full support" of the incoming administration. Birmingham will be the first U.S. host of the World Games since the inaugural edition in 1981.

"We are excited about The World Games 2021 being held in Birmingham," Woodfin said in a statement. "This is a great opportunity for our city to showcase our great people and southern hospitality. Much work has gone into making these Games the best ever."

Various disciplines such as badminton, beach volleyball, trampoline, rugby sevens, taekwondo, triathlon, weightlifting, karate, skateboarding, rock climbing, surfing and softball – the latter five having already been added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – have appeared in the World Games.

The 2021 World Games will be held from July 15-25.

IOA Elects Next President

The Indian Olympic Association elects its next leader on Dec. 14 during its 2017 General Assembly.

International Hockey Federation President Narinder Batra will take over the post from World Squash Federation President N. Ramachandran. Batra’s election is now a formality since India’s top tennis official Anil Khanna withdrew from the election on Dec. 7.

Khanna wrote to the IOA after the withdrawal deadline but his withdrawal was accepted. Khanna, an International Tennis Federation vice president, said he withdrew in order to "keep the IOA family united", according to the Hindustan Times.

IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta will also be re-elected as a formality as he is the sole candidate for the position. However, elections will be held for senior vice president, treasurer, eight vice presidents and 10 Executive Council members.

Vote now for your favorite sports city! The Sports City Poll closes Dec. 31. The poll ranks the top 50 cities most strongly associated with sport. Results January 2018.

Written by Kevin Nutley

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