The government will create a sports agency to boost resources for top athletes to land the 30 gold medals targeted at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, media reports and officials said Tuesday.
The agency will be overseen by a Cabinet minister who will also be tasked with ensuring that the 2020 Games go smoothly.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga hinted Monday at such a move, saying “it is necessary for us to integrate policies” around the Olympics and Paralympics, which currently fall under two different ministries.
The administration is reportedly considering having sports minister Hakubun Shimomura also serve as the minister in charge of the Olympics.
Japan is targeting 30 gold medals at the 2020 Games, nearly double its haul when it hosted the 1964 Olympics, an official at the education and sports ministry said. “We have made a budget request for ¥1.5 billion for the next fiscal year for projects to train top athletes aged between 16 and 20.”
At last year’s Olympics, Japan won seven golds, finishing 11th in the medals standings.
Sports exchanges eyed
With South Korea’s Pyeongchang to host the 2018 Winter Olympics and Tokyo the 2020 Summer Games, the two cities hope to use the opportunity to further promote sports and strengthen ties between their countries.
At a meeting Monday in Buenos Aires, Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda and Kim Jung-haeng, his South Korean counterpart, agreed to give full support to the promotion of athlete exchanges.
“Even when our two countries are not on the best of terms (diplomatically), sports can contribute to deepening mutual understanding,” said Takeda.
Kim agreed that sports can contribute to improving bilateral ties.