(ATR) The Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission chairman expressed a possibility that baseball/softball could be on the Olympic Program in Tokyo.
John Coates made the comments to Around the Rings in a wide-ranging interview previewing the work ahead for Tokyo’s Olympic organizers. He acknowledged that there was a long road ahead for the sport, which lost out on a chance to rejoin the Olympic Program to wrestling at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in September.
“That’s something that hasn’t been discussed at the IOC Executive Board (EB),” said Coates, also an IOC vice president. The governing IOC EB would have to approve any changes to the Program. At the upcoming December EB, Coates said the Olympic program will be one of the points of discussion.
“At the moment, our brief is to deal wit the 28 sports that we know,” Coates said.
“It may be that baseball and softball put their hand up. The IOC would certainly not be promoting that. It would be something that would have to come from the organizing committee.”
Due to Japan’s love of the sport and the country’s Olympic success in the game, it has been rumored that baseball/softball could be part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Tokyo starts off its seven-year race against the clock to organize the Games on a sound footing. Coates said Tokyo was “clearly” the best technical bid.
He did say the biggest task for organizers will be to “make sure these are Japanese Games.”
“It’s got to reflect the culture and values of Japan,” he said, “particularly young Japanese people. What it will mean is that the organizing committee has got to have confidence in itself.”
He added that the Games could play a special role for Japanese people, serving as a “unifying opportunity” following the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
“Japan’s had a pretty rough time lately,” Coates said, adding that the Games are “an opportunity to give some hope again to so many of the families that have tragic losses.”
Today and tomorrow, Coates makes his first visit to Tokyo alongside IOC President Dr. Thomas Bach. They have a full agenda of meetings with sport, business, political and Olympic leaders in the city.
When asked about suggestions that Tokyo’s National Stadium be downsized to better accommodate the venue’s site, Coates said he would not comment directly on the proposed changes because they are hypothetical situations.
He did say, however, that as with every Olympics, there will “inevitably be some changes to some of the things that are in the candidature file.”
“We need to be open-minded if the organizing committee puts changes to us.”
The one thing that must be avoided, he said, is that athlete services “are not prejudiced.”
This post was reprinted with permission from Around the Rings.