Bach pro­poses hold­ing 2020 events in dis­as­ter area

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

IOC Pres­i­dent Thomas Bach met with Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe yes­ter­day and sug­gested stag­ing some events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the north­east­ern re­gion of Ja­pan hit by the 2011 earth­quake, tsunami and nu­clear dis­as­ter.

Bach said the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee is con­sid­er­ing hold­ing some of the base­ball and soft­ball games in the af­fected ar­eas as “one of the op­tions.”

Fukushima is re­port­edly a strong can­di­date. Base­ball and soft­ball were dropped from the Olympics af­ter Bei­jing 2008 but are among five sports added to the pro­gram for the 2020 Games. Both are very pop­u­lar in Ja­pan and an event in the dis­as­ter-af­fected ar­eas could send a pow­er­ful mes­sage of re­con­struc­tion.

Bach said Abe wel­comed his pro­posal.

“We dis­cussed ... the idea of the IOC to have some events of the Olympic games of Tokyo 2020 in the dis­as­ter-af­fected ar­eas, to con­trib­ute to the re­gen­er­a­tion of the area, to show the world by 2020 how this re­gen­er­a­tion is mak­ing progress, “Bach said.

“Base­ball and soft­ball are one of the op­tions un­der dis­cus­sion given the great pop­u­lar­ity of the sport here in Ja­pan,” he told re­porters. “So an in­au­gu­ral match for base­ball with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the Ja­panese team, I think, could be a very pow­er­ful mes­sage.”

The pri­mary venue for base­ball and soft­ball is ex­pected to be the Yoko­hama Sta­dium.

Bach is in Ja­pan amid ten­sion be­tween Olympic or­ga­niz­ers and Tokyo Gover­nor Yuriko Koike, who is push­ing to cut costs. A Tokyo gov­ern­ment panel set up by Koike said the cost of the Olympics could ex­ceed $30 bil­lion — four times the ini­tial es­ti­mate — un­less dras­tic cuts are made.

The city panel also pro­posed mov­ing three sports from planned new venues to ex­ist­ing ones — in­clud­ing re­lo­cat­ing row­ing to a site hun­dreds of miles out­side the cap­i­tal.

The IOC has sug­gested the pos­si­bil­ity of mov­ing row­ing to an ex­ist­ing site in South Korea in case there is no res­o­lu­tion over the Ja­panese venue, the Asahi news­pa­per re­ported, quot­ing uniden­ti­fied Ja­panese sources as say­ing. The South Korean venue in Chungiu City hosted the 2013 world cham­pi­onships and row­ing at the 2014 Asian Games.

Speak­ing at Tokyo 2020 head­quar­ters, Bach did not ad­dress re­ports of the row­ing and ca­noe sprint events pos­si­bly be­ing moved to South Korea.

Ear­lier, Bach re­jected calls to ex­pand four-party talks aimed at re­duc­ing the costs of the Tokyo Games.

Bach said ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the IOC, Tokyo or­ga­niz­ers, the city gov­ern­ment and Ja­pan’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment should re­sult in cost re­duc­tions.

Koike had sug­gested in­clud­ing in­ter­na­tional and na­tional sports fed­er­a­tions in the four-party talks but Bach said the makeup of the group has been agreed on.

“We have an agree­ment about this four-par­tite work­ing group,” Bach said. “And this was very well per­ceived by the Tokyo Metropoli­tan Gov­ern­ment and by the gover­nor, and we will fol­low this agree­ment we had yes­ter­day.”

Ar­gen­tine for­mer foot­baller Javier Zanetti (L) and Gong Lei, Chi­nese foot­ball Head coach at Chi­nese Su­per League side Guizhou Renhe, at­tend the Press Con­fer­ence for Sun­ing’s Ac­qui­si­tion of In­ter Mi­lan on June 6, 2016 in Nan­jing.

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