(ATR) Newly-appointed Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko presented the organizing committee’s new Gender Equality action plan on Friday as part of their reaffirmed commitment to achieving a gender balance internally.
The Tokyo 2020 Executive Board are working with their stakeholders such as the Japanese Olympic Committee and the Japanese Paralympic Committee as well as the government and will listen to the athletes’ committee in addition to a Human Rights, Labour Working Group.
The brief presentation was followed by a press conference which is expected to become a regular event as President Hashimoto seeks to establish a strong relationship with the domestic and international media at this pivotal time in the countdown to the rescheduled Games.
"You may think we are trying to host it no matter what but that’s not true, we will do whatever it takes to make these Games safe and trustworthy," said Hashimoto who only in September – in her role as the Japan Olympics Minister – reportedly said: "I think we have to hold the Games at any cost."
"We wish to promote communication, collaboration and we thought this is very important for us to do that so we have built a new COVID-19 action team," she said on Friday.
When pressed regarding the attendance of fans from overseas, which is set to be determined by the end of March, Hashimoto spoke of the difficulty in prioritizing safety while also assuring that athletes have a good experience and that their friends, families and fans can access the Games via new methods if required.
"We will decide (about the inclusion of international fans) before March 25, we know many people are anxious to be there like families of athletes, fans of the Olympic and Paralympic Movement, we need to be considerate to them. During the five-party meeting I made one recommendation, it’s been like this for some time, for athletes demonstrating wonderful performances around the world, and if the public cannot necessarily access them we must adjust."
Hashimoto believes Tokyo is the city best-placed to hold a successful Games during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and underlined that the organizers must be open to new ideas as they aim to share the Olympic experience with those outside of Japan.
"How do we present the Olympics for fans overseas? Because of technology maybe we can change the experience of the Games. Now we have a postponed Games, Tokyo is the only city which can lead something like this with a lot of constraints.
"At the Tokyo Games we want to be as considerable as possible, we want to make the Olympics and Paralympics more sustainable than prior Games. COVID-19 forced us to change many things, given that future Olympics and Paralympics will have to be more accommodating to their society.
"If someone can’t attend physically, then hopefully they can experience the Games in a different way. There will be a lot of challenges ahead of us but we want to give different opportunities to people who can’t attend in person."
Questions continued to flow surrounding the upcoming decision on spectators and Hashimoto spoke about who is involved in that decision-making process.
"Before the end of March we are planning to make an announcement about the area of overseas spectators. This is a very big decision that requires a lot of help from different stakeholders. There are people who can support us to make the Tokyo Games special. We need to make a decision as soon as possible. After this decision we will talk about what we can do and what’s required.
"The top priority is safety and security. The COVID-19 action meeting will be held, the situation is evolving, but we will hold the meeting at the right time and make our decisions carefully."
President Hashimoto was quizzed about the organizing committee’s sudden desire to recruit new female board members having neglected this area of gender equality internally for the last seven years.
"People around the world are now paying attention to the area of gender equality. Quickly raising the female representation is very important. That’s why we took action. An increased percentage of representatives should not be the end goal. We have to disseminate something. We are prioritizing this more than at any other Games before but that is a message that we didn’t do a good job communicating previously. We want to bring more transparency.
"We are always focusing on a day-to-day basis. We can reflect our new initiatives and evaluate the feedback to have more successful meetings. The legacy for these Games is very important and we want to put good proposals together in this area. This is why we wanted to move very quickly. Please continue to follow our actions towards this."
Hashimoto also invited any volunteers or torch relay participants, who have recently relinquished their roles following the sexism storm from her predecessor, and former Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro, back to the Olympic fold and hopes to convince them to do so.
"Safety and security has to be there as the priority. For someone to want to be a volunteer we need to give people confidence in our programs. We would be happy to welcome them back while making sure all safety methods are in place. Running with the torch is tremendously honorable for the Games and the journey of the torch to the national stadium is very exciting with great emotion and passion across all 47 prefectures."
Written and reported by Mark Pickering in Tokyo
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