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AFP
September 11, 2018

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World sailing rows back on Tokyo 2020 criticism

FUJISAWA, Japan: After issuing sharp criticism of preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, the world sailing federation said Monday that organisers had made much progress as it held a test event at the 2020 venue.

In April, World Sailing said Tokyo 2020 was well behind schedule in terms of its preparations, with concerns over fishing fleets operating on the course, and over security.This led IOC coordination commission chairman John Coates to warn 2020 organisers they had to be “prepared to answer these questions when they are raised”, or confidence could waver.

But speaking at a World Cup series event at the Olympic venue of Enoshima island near Tokyo, a World Sailing official said that they had “really seen a big change.”

“We had some concerns at the beginning of the year but we have seen a huge amount of activities over the last few months leading up to this first test event and World Cup,” Alastair Fox, director of events for World Sailing, told reporters.

Fox said World Sailing was treating the Enoshima regatta as an Olympic test event, adding: “We have a lot to learn” with less than two years until the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony.The sailing federation will gather feedback from the sailors and race officials, said Fox, adding: “We’ll sit down with our Tokyo friends and we’ll plan ahead for 2019 test events and for the Olympic Games.”

Also attending the regatta, Tokyo 2020 official Takuya Naito admitted: “In April, our communication with World Sailing wasn’t sufficient.”But he claimed organisers had made “big progress” since then, talking to the coastguard about safety and to fishermen about organising the field of play.“We don’t think our preparations are largely behind schedule,” said Naito.

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