Battling for basic needs at Tokyo 2020

Published on May 8th, 2019

The Tokyo Olympics are trying to cut spending, under pressure from the International Olympic Committee, but some of Tokyo’s cuts are aimed at the international sports federations that put on the Olympic show.

It is a little known fact that each sport provides the playbook on what is needed to conduct their events, but getting the host country and the IOC to fulfill promises remains the challenge.

For Sailing at the Rio 2016 Olympics, there was a failure in reducing the pollution at the venue of Guanabara Bay. For Tokyo 2020, there has been pains in working with the fishing fleets to provide the needed ocean space, but now basic infrastructure items are at risk.

“There is absolutely no question in the end that Tokyo will deliver a fantastic games,” said Andy Hunt, the head of World Sailing. “But decisions are being taken on cost savings at a high level in the organizing committee, which has flowed down without realizing the implications.”

Hunt said some “basic stuff” for sailing was under threat: tents, storage areas, water provision for sailors, and adequate shade. Even some food for athletes. These items are a priority given the extreme heat that all outdoor events will face, along with the isolation of the Sailing venue in Enoshima.

“I don’t have any guilt on my part that I’m asking for things that aren’t needed,” he said.

Hunt was among several federation leaders who openly criticized Tokyo organizers this week in Australia at an annual conference of Summer Games sports federations. He told Tokyo officials that “hotels seem overpriced” and said organizers did “not appear to have secured enough reasonably priced accommodations.”

It’s not for a lack of money these cuts are being made, as Tokyo appears well-funded with an operating budget twice as large as Rio’s. For Hunt, this isn’t about frills; it’s about basic needs.

“I don’t think we over-ask,” Hunt said. “If there was not enough medical provision and focus on safety — if something went wrong — you can be absolutely certain where the responsibility would sit.”

Source: Associated Press, Scuttlebutt

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