Games organizing committee clock is ticking

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 18, 2014 at 10:28 am •  Published: February 18, 2014

With the organizing committee for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics up and running, preparations for the mega-project have commenced. The main hurdles it faces are how to amass the vast sums of money needed to stage the games and the personnel needed to run them. There is also the task of maintaining public interest in the event until 2020.

Here is a rundown of the key players on the committee and its main tasks for the next six years.

What’s the role of the Olympic organizing committee?

The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is in charge of preparations and overall management for the 2020 Games, including the individual sporting events, the opening and closing ceremonies, the facilities, including the athletes’ village, and transportation and security for the venues.

The committee, set up in late January, will submit a basic organizational plan to the IOC by next February, a committee official said. The plan will be fleshed out based on the “candidature file” the bid committee submitted to the IOC in January last year.

Who is on the committee?

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, 76, was appointed president and former Vice Finance Minister Toshiro Muto, 70, was named chief executive officer when the panel was launched.

Mori was chosen apparently because of his wide connections in various fields, including sports, and his contribution toward Tokyo’s successful bid for the games. The former president of Japan Sports Association and current president of the Japan Rugby Football Union, Mori has been involved in Tokyo’s efforts since its failed bid for the 2016 Games.

Education minister Hakubun Shimomura, who doubles as minister in charge of the Olympics, said Mori “has international networks as well as connections with domestic sports . . . and the business world.”

Muto meanwhile is expected to serve as the committee’s coordinator with both the ministries and international bodies, including the IOC.

“(His) presence helps a lot as he has deep relationships with officials at the ministries, municipalities and business sectors,” Mori said of Muto at the inaugural news conference last month.

Have any major business executives been appointed?

Mori told reporters Feb. 9 in Sochi, Russia, where he and others were inspecting the Winter Games, that Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp., is expected to be appointed one of the vice chairmen, and that Fujio Mitarai, CEO of Canon Inc. and a former chairman of Keidanren, will become honorary president.

Appointing leading business figures is expected to help the committee collect money for the project. According to the candidature file, the organizing committee expects to collect ¥101.98 billion in sponsorship revenue and ¥10 billion in donations.

Newly elected Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said Friday that he will visit Sochi to attend the closing ceremony for the Winter Olympics and meet IOC officials, apparently to raise the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s profile as host of the 2020 Games. The capital was leaderless for about two months after former Gov. Naoki Inose resigned over a money scandal in December.

Are there any young people or women on the committee?

Not yet. Critics say the appointments to date are focused too much on getting the support of ministries and businesses and should include young athletes and women, including two-time Olympic silver medalist fencer Yuki Ota, Paralympian Mami Sato and TV presenter Christel Takigawa. They contributed considerably toward Tokyo’s successful bid.

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