Paris Will Show Value Of Hosting Olympics, Says Tokyo Games Chief

Tokyo, (APP – UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 8th Jul, 2024) Paris will remind people of the value of hosting the Olympics, says a top official of the Tokyo 2020 Games, which were delayed by a year because of Covid and tainted by corruption.

Seiko Hashimoto, who was president of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee, told AFP that the Japanese public were bitterly split over hosting the Games during the pandemic.

A corruption scandal had also “soured” the Olympics‘ image in Japanese people’s minds, she said.

But Hashimoto hopes Paris can showcase sport at its best this month and make people in the French capital happy that their city is hosting the event.

“I hope every single person will understand the value and importance of hosting the Olympics in their own country,” said Hashimoto, a seven-time Olympian.

“If this serves as an opportunity for people to think about what the Olympics and Paralympics mean to them, it will be something that benefits future generations.”

Hashimoto admitted that many people in Japan questioned why the country went ahead with the event during the pandemic.

The Tokyo Olympics were held under strict anti-virus rules, with spectators banned from most venues and street festivities scrapped in order to minimise the risk of infections.

The lucky fans who were allowed in were forbidden from cheering and required to wear masks at all times.

Looking back, Hashimoto said organisers could have allowed venues to be 50 or 60 percent full of spectators.

But she said the decision to bar them was the only realistic option at the time.

“We argued over and over again that we could host it safely, but no one listened,” she said.

“Conversely, had we given in to pressure and cancelled the Games, I think people would have said, ‘Why didn’t you work harder and think of ways to hold the Olympics?'”

Hashimoto finds solace in the fact that some children were invited into venues through special programmes.

She says without hesitation that hosting the Games was “the right decision”.

“I believe the Tokyo Games left their mark in that we were able to show we could respond to various demands and still move forward with the project,” she said.

“For better or worse, we hosted the Tokyo Games. Maybe there were some shortcomings, but I believe we left a good example of what can be done despite very difficult conditions.”

– ‘Unprecedented experience’ –

The legacy of the Tokyo Olympics was also tainted by a corruption scandal that emerged once the Games were over. A series of trials have so far found 10 people guilty of paying bribes in connection with the event.

Hashimoto was parachuted into the organising committee’s top job less than six months before the Games began, after previous president Yoshiro Mori was ousted for making sexist remarks.

She maintains that organisers did a good job in difficult circumstances, saying they were able to host the Games “with almost no infections”.

But she admits she has regrets over lost opportunities due to the pandemic, which robbed Tokyo of its chance to shine fully on the global stage.

From the preparation stage, Tokyo had received very high reviews,” she said.

“There were such high hopes, much more than other cities and countries. There were so many things that we wanted to do but couldn’t.

“That’s a regret that I have,” she added.

Hashimoto said Tokyo‘s ability to deliver the Games in difficult circumstances can provide useful lessons for future Olympic organisers.

She has full confidence Paris chiefs can put on a “perfect” Games.

“I believe the Paris committee has grown considerably because it was able to see our unprecedented experience of organising the event in the midst of the pandemic, and took lessons from it,” she said.
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