Sports personalities pay tribute to former Japanese Prime Minister Abe for his role at the Tokyo Games

Sports figures at home and abroad have paid tribute to Shinzo Abe for the former prime minister’s important role in securing the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

His close connection to former Tokyo Games organizing committee chairman Yoshiro Mori, also a former prime minister, proved crucial during preparations for the games which were postponed for a year following the outbreak of the pandemic. of COVID-19.

Japan won its bid at the September 2013 session of the International Olympic Committee, just two years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s northeast Pacific coast and caused multiple cave-ins in a nuclear central.

Photo taken on September 7, 2013 shows Japan’s then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe making a presentation on Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics during the general session of the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires . Tokyo was then chosen as the host city by the committee. (Kyodo)

Abe did his best to allay concerns about contaminated water leaking from the facility saying the “situation is under control”.

“He really led us from the front. He really empowered us with that speech in Buenos Aires,” said former Japanese Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda. “I’m really disappointed (in his death).”

In 2015, the costs of the Olympics and the opaque bidding procedures of the organizers became a point of criticism when the public learned that the original design of a new national stadium, by the late architect Zaha Hadid, would cost much more than initially announced.

Abe bit the bullet, canceled the order and reopened bidding for the new stadium.

He then helped create an optimistic mood for the 2020 Games by participating in the closing ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 dressed in the costume of the famous video game character “Mario”.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, dressed as Super Mario, makes an appearance during the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 21, 2016. (Kyodo)

On March 24, 2020, shortly after the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and its influential athletics and swimming federations requested a postponement, Abe agreed with IOC President Thomas Bach and announced a delay without previous.

“(Organizing the games) could have been difficult if there was no postponement. We could only move if the Prime Minister made the decisions. It was a very good decision,” said Toshiro Muto, CEO of the organizing committee.

He resigned as Prime Minister in September of that year, but was awarded the Bach Olympic Order in November for his contribution to the Olympic movement.

“I am deeply shocked by this cowardly attack on former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo,” Bach tweeted.

International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons thanked Abe, writing that his organization “will be forever grateful to the people of Japan for hosting the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games under the most demanding of circumstances.”

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said Abe’s murder was “incredibly tragic news” after Japan hosted the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

“He was a huge supporter of a historic Rugby World Cup in Japan. My heart goes out to his family, friends and the people of Japan at this sad time.”

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