The Hula Report: Tokyo Top Ten

(ATR) Athletes arrive, IOC leaders gather, and Tokyo residents remain concerned as the Olympic juggernaut is here. Far from being exhaustive, here is a list of 10 people who will get their share of attention in Tokyo.
IOC President Thomas Bach. (ATR Sheila Hula)

Thomas Bach – The IOC President must be prepared for the star performance of his eight years in office. Rio de Janeiro experienced challenges in 2016, when Bach oversaw his first Summer Olympics as president. But the tensions and challenges of dealing with a postponement of the Games amid the ever-evolving corona virus pandemic are incomparable to anything that has come before.

Bach will be a lightning rod for critics from a Japanese audience that remains unenthusiastic about the Olympics and fears the spread of COVID 19. This week, he is planning a day trip to the Hiroshima Memorial. The event may reveal part of the conflict many Japanese people feel over the Olympics. Bach, elected in March for a final four-year term, will also lead the first IOC session in person since the start of the pandemic.

Yuriko Koike – The governor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been a bulwark against waves of voter concern as she insists the Games go on their deferred schedule. While Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide may have the final say on solutions to crises arising during the Games, Koike will be the real decision maker behind the scenes.

Gwen berry – The American hammer-throw star comes to Tokyo with great expectations. Not just for a possible medal-winning performance, but also for his frank views on social issues. His demonstration on the podium at the 2019 Pan American Games drew a warning from the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee which was subsequently withdrawn.

Berry will be emblematic of other athletes around the world who could speak out by respecting – or ignoring – the new IOC guidelines for athletes to voice their opinions at the Tokyo Olympics.

While Berry can get a lot of attention, she doesn’t compete until August 3. Any number of athletes can beat her to speak first – or to stage a podium event.

Molly salomon – The head of NBC Olympics will oversee the production of the all-important American broadcast of the Games. Deprived of spectators and subject to a state of emergency, Samuels and his colleagues have an Olympic Games like no other to cover. First source of income for the IOC, NBC coverage of the Games must attract audiences that will pay billions to Lausanne.

Naomi Osaka – The tennis star will get more attention than any other Olympian in Tokyo. The Olympic tennis tournament will be her first since she pulled out of Roland Garros in May to deal with mental health issues. Assuming she competes later this month, Osaka is hoping for a gold medal for Japan. There, no pressure.

Simone Bilès
– Already considered the greatest gymnast of all time, the reigning American champion and gold medalist will face expectations of near perfection. Biles participates in the first week of the Games, which should give an audience surge in the United States and other important markets.

John coates – The imperturbable Australian will close his 20 years at the IOC in Tokyo. For the past eight years, he has headed the IOC Coordination Commission for Tokyo, commuting between Sydney and Tokyo on a monthly basis until the pandemic strikes in 2020. Coates has been in Tokyo since early June overseeing the final preparations and infuriating some in Japan with his stubborn determination to hold on. the Games, pandemic or not. Next week’s IOC Session is expected to attribute the 2032 Olympics to Brisbane. Coates played a key role in shaping the IOC’s new process for selecting host cities and as President of the Australian Olympic Committee, he provided a lot of encouragement to the Brisbane bid team.

McConnell Kit – The IOC Sports Director will keep an eye on the Olympic Games program as he heads into the future, leaving some sports behind while others become new to dancing under the five rings.

Weightlifting and boxing are the most endangered sports, both with well-documented governance, ethics and doping issues. The IOC says the experience of both sports in Tokyo will be a determining factor if they remain on the Olympic program. These politically charged decisions belong to Bach and the IOC. They will be based on data collected by McConnell.

Tokyo will host the Olympic debuts of four sports which will now seek permanent places on the program. McConnell’s information on karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing will be crucial for their future. Baseball and softball, which are returning to Tokyo, also want to be back at every Games.

Seiko Hashimoto – Chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee since the start of the year, Hashimoto has proven to be a stable and capable leader for the final months of the Games. Hired over the sexist comments of former President Yoshiro Mori, Hashimoto has helped shatter patriarchal attitudes in Japan, which is a new kind of Olympic legacy. The four-time Olympian is expected to be an upcoming player in the world of international and Japanese sport.

Christophe Dubi – The Olympic Games Executive Director knows where all the Tokyo Olympic Games switches and dials are located and how they should be set. If something goes wrong in Tokyo, Dubi will be the IOC executive overseeing the fixes. Hopefully, Dubi will earn the right to smile on August 8.

Reported by Ed Hula. For general comments or questions, click here.
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