International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach hailed the unity of the Japanese people and the progress of Tokyo 2020 as organisers received a glowing assessment of their preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Bach delivered his appraisal at the start of the Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission’s three-day meeting in the Japanese capital.
Coordination Commission chair John Coates asserted that the German had arrived in Japan at the right moment in preparations, as Bach comes towards the end of a nearly two week stay.
His stay has included joining Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe on a visit to Fukushima, the region devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The 2020 Olympic and Paralympics are seen as a vital marker in the efforts to rebuild the region and Bach asserted that the Games had provided both a welcome distraction to those impacted but also that sport had empowered residents, giving them hope for the future.
Bach praised the unity of the Japanese people in preparing for the Games, pointing Tokyo 2020 receiving over 100,000 applications to be volunteers as a sign of the support and growing excitement among the public.
The significant backing of businesses, which have seen Tokyo 2020 build an extensive commercial programme, and the ongoing efforts to develop a strong Japanese teams across sports were also noted.
With now under 600 days to go until the Opening Ceremony, Bach stated that these elements provided confidence that Tokyo 2020 would deliver a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“When you take all of this together, all of the ingredients are there,” Bach said.
“We have not seen an Olympic host city as ready as Tokyo at 18 months before the Games.
“Some of the cities we have had to organise crisis meetings with the Executive Board before the Games.
“Some of them three months before the Games were not as ready as you are today at 18 months before.
“You have really reached a high level of preparation”.
Bach claimed this level of preparation would enable organisers to fine tune preparations for accommodation and transport, which tend to provide headaches as the Games draws closer.
The German insisted that Tokyo 2020, the Japanese Government and Tokyo Metropolitan Government should not become complacent as challenges may still yet arise.
Setting up the seventh Coordination Commission meeting, Coates stated that Tokyo 2020 were now firmly in the operational phase of preparations.
“We are getting down to the details, as all the planning has been done.
“Since our last meeting there have been some very positive measures.
“Plans have been firmed up for the torch relay and medal designs, while Tokyo 2020 have also secured agreements with the Paris 2024 and the United Nations”.
The partnerships are due to work on areas such as cost cutting and sustainable development.
The former has been a staple of Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission meetings, with Coates asserting that the IOC and its staff needed to do more to educate the public on the cost of the Games.
“There is a clear delineation between the operating costs of these Games and the legacy investment that's taking place for these Games in infrastructure,” he said.
"The message that we have to get through is that the operating budget will be covered.
“There will be no drain on the public purse.
“I am not sure that we have got that message through and we need to work to ensure that it does."
In October, the Australian dismissed a report by Japan’s Audit Board which claimed the Games could cost ¥3 trillion (£20 billion/$26.5 billion/€23 billion), stating that the figure included projects that were “not Games costs that Tokyo 2020 should be burdened with”.
The current organising committee budget stands at ¥1.35 trillion (£9.1 billion/$12.3 billion/€10.3 billion), with the figure produced last December representing a significant reduction on previous figures.
A version three budget is due to be published later this month, with reports indicating that costs may increase due to Tokyo 2020 needing to introduce measures to counter the threat posed by potentially high temperatures during the Games.
These measures are expected to be discussed during the three-day meeting, while the ongoing doubts over boxing’s place at the Games could also be another area of discussion.