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IOC visit puts spotlight on 2020 venues, budget

by Ed Odeven

Staff writer

It’s no shocking revelation that the IOC’s planning revolves around lots of meetings.

Case in point: preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This week marked the first of 10 scheduled IOC Coordination Commission visits to Tokyo before the 2020 Summer Games.

Former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee, addressed the fear of rising venue construction costs during a Friday news conference. (Ten new permanent sports venues have been planned, including a new National Stadium.)

“The issue of cost is a critical one,” Mori said. “The taxpayers are footing the bill. We will look to see if there is any overlap of waste in terms of venues.”

But before the Japanese capital was awarded the 2020 Olympics on Sept. 7, 2013, in Buenos Aires, Tokyo 2020 officials repeatedly mentioned the reserve fund of $4.5 billion set aside by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for Olympic-related costs. The projected budget for the 2020 Games? Between $5 billion and $6 billion.

Fast forward to Friday, when Mori issued this statement, according to AFP: “We will see if some venues can be used for more than one sport. We have until February to submit our foundational plan.”

John Coates, the IOC Coordination Commission chair, meanwhile, felt the three-day visit was productive.

“We are very pleased with Tokyo 2020′s progress under the leadership of president Yoshiro Mori,” said Coates.

He added: “The close cooperation of all levels of government with Tokyo 2020 was clearly felt by the commission, particularly following our meeting with Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe and with Gov. (Yoichi) Masuzoe’s participation in the visit . . .”

Possible changes to the venue plan — badminton, basketball and canoeing have been cited as events that could be moved outside of the 8-km radius of the Olympic village, where the majority of the venues will be located — have grabbed the IOC’s attention, including Coate’s.

“There will be no changes unless there is the full sign-off from all the international federations,” warned Coates.

Clearly, though, this dialogue is far from finished.

Wrestling talk: Sometimes a name change can represent a new start, a fresh approach. For FILA, wrestling’s world governing body, the announced proposal this month to change its name to United World Wrestling falls under that category. In English, the French acronym FILA stands for International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles.

A bold, all-caps logo accompanies the new name. Both still must be formally approved on Sept. 7 at the FILA Congress in Tashkent, site of the 2014 FILA World Championships.

“I think in order for us to move forward, we need to identify the shortcomings of the past and work hard to improve them,” said Nenad Lalovic, the FILA president in a statement. “I think that with a new visual identity that is both distinct and represents the values of wrestling, we all have another reason to be excited for the future of the sport.”

Meanwhile, Lalovic, a Serbian, will run opposed for a six-year term as president, the governing body announced on June 19.

The FILA bureau, a 23-member entity, confirmed this decision at a meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Lalovic took over as FILA’s head honcho last year following Raphael Martinetti’s resignation in the aftermath of the IOC’s February 2014 decision not to include wrestling in the core sports program for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But wrestling leaders built a strong campaign to secure the sport’s inclusion, which was decided in Buenos Aires.

50th time: The International Swimming Hall of Fame, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, held its 50th induction ceremony along with a series of related events from June 12-15.

The festivities also included a 50th anniversary reunion for swimmers who competed at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Australian swimming legend Dawn Fraser, 76, the women’s 100-meter freestyle champion in three straight Olympics (1956 Melbourne Games, 1960 Rome Games and ’64 Tokyo Games), was one of the noted guests in attendance.

In 1999, the IOC declared that Fraser was “the world’s greatest living female water sports champion.”

By the numbers: Shirley Leung of The Boston Globe reported Friday that 47 percent of Massachusetts residents support a 2024 Boston bid for the Summer Olympics, while 43 percent oppose it. The Globe conducted the poll, with “604 likely voters over the past two weeks.”

Winning pays off: After British athletes collected a combined 10 medals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics, UK Sport has announced a major increase in funding for winter sports before the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

The BBC reported Thursday that UK Sports invested £14.2 million in the four-year run-up to the Sochi Games. UK Sports will allocate £31 million before the 2018 competitions in South Korea.

That money will be divided between eight winter sports: bobsled, curling, figure skating, short-track speed skating, skeleton, ski and snowboard, Paralympic alpine skiing and wheelchair curling.

“The record £31 million investment announced represents the belief we have in the potential of our winter sports,” UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl was quoted as saying by the BBC.

She added: “Inspired by our summer teams’ performances at London 2012, our winter athletes followed suit; proving that our UK system is working and we can create a nation of winners.”

Ready to race: Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt, a six-time Olympic gold medalist, has expressed his desire to participate in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

He has, however, been sidelined by a foot injury in recent weeks.

If he competes, the July 23 to August 3 sporting extravaganza would be a scaled-down schedule for Bolt, the world record holder in the 100 and 200 meters.

“I do not wish to take the place of anyone who qualifies this weekend (at Jamaican nationals) in an individual event, but I am available for relay duty if the selectors feel I can be an asset to the Jamaican team in Glasgow,” Bolt said on his personal website.

Event organizers, of course, would be thrilled if Bolt shows up in Scotland.

“Usain has won medals at every major event, except the Commonwealth Games. he will get an unbelievable welcome,” Commonwealth Games Federation spokesman Peter Murphy said, according to the BBC. “He will get an unbelievable welcome. Glasgow will grind to a halt.”