Tokyo (AFP) – A successful Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang has “raised the bar” for Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee said Monday, warning organisers to brace for difficult questions and criticism as the Games approach.
IOC coordination commission chairman John Coates paid tribute to a “very, very successful” Games in South Korea as he started two days of meetings with Tokyo 2020 officials.
“The bar has been raised for you,” said Coates as he recalled the “fantastic sporting achievement” and “historic moments with the two Koreas walking together”.
With around two-and-a-half years until the Tokyo Olympics, Coates advised organisers that their preparation would come under increasing scrutiny.
Tokyo came under fire from some quarters at a recent meeting of top sporting officials, who raised some “very pertinent questions”, Coates said.
According to specialist outlet Inside the Games, around 10 world governing body representatives raised concerns over different aspects of the Games preparations at the meeting in Bangkok.
“You have to be prepared to answer these questions when they are raised and if you don’t, these are the sorts of things that can impact the confidence of our stakeholders in your ability to host the Games,” warned Coates.
“That’s very hard to come back from when that momentum starts to build… when these questions come, they have to be answered,” stressed the Australian.
After a difficult start — with budgetary problems and a series of PR disasters — Tokyo 2020 organisers say they have wrestled the Games back on track.
“Everything is going very smoothly and I can clearly say that most of the competition venues are on track and they will be completed as scheduled,” said Tokyo 2020 chief executive officer Toshiro Muto in a recent news conference.
Organising committee president Yoshiro Mori said Monday that “budget reduction is the highest priority action for us,” after fury over the high price tag of the Games.
In December, organisers announced a “significant” cut of $1.4 billion in the budget, bringing the overall bill to 1.35 trillion yen ($12.5 billion).