IOC hears reports on Rio's dirty water, Tokyo emblem flap

IOC hears reports on Rio's dirty water, Tokyo emblem flap

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 8:31 p.m. ET

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- A day after the high-profile vote which awarded Beijing the 2022 Winter Games, International Olympic Committee members dealt Saturday with issues affecting the next two Summer Games -- severe water pollution in Rio de Janeiro and the fuss over Tokyo's choice of emblem.

Earlier this month, the Japanese government threw out the design plans for the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Games amid public criticism of the 252 billion yen ($2 billion) price tag, which was nearly double the original estimate and would have made it the most expensive sports stadium ever.

Tokyo organizing committee head Yoshio Mori later apologized, a gesture IOC president Thomas Bach said Saturday wasn't really necessary.

But Tokyo officials now find themselves involved in another controversy over an emblem they unveiled -- it's based on a "T," standing for Tokyo, team and tomorrow. But the 2013 logo for a theater in Liege, Belgium, has similar shapes in white against a black backdrop and the designer of that logo says it will approach the IOC and ask them to change it.


IOC vice president John Coates of Australia, who heads the coordination commission for the Tokyo Games, said the IOC did everything required ahead of the emblem's unveiling.

"The IOC and Tokyo had checked all of the copyright registers," Coates said. "We have looked at both designs and we don't think we have a problem."

Mori said Saturday that the logo was developed over six months and "we've gone through the proper processes."

In other Tokyo news, Coates said the number of extra athletes as a result of new sports being added to the program will be capped at 500. Eight sports are on a short list for consideration, with a final decision to be made by the IOC in August 2016.

Tokyo organizers are expected to recommend baseball and softball, both popular in Japan. But the 500-athlete quota -- which Mori said he'd heard only for the first time Saturday -- would likely only allow baseball and softball, and possibly one other sport to be added, owing to the number of players on those team sports.

On Rio's polluted water issues, Brazilian organizing committee chief Carlos Nuzman said he isn't planning any changes.

"I can confirm here the sailing competition will not be moved to any other venue," he told the delegates during an update on preparations for the 2016 Games.

This week, The Associated Press published findings of a five-month study that looked specifically at viruses present in water being used for rowing, sailing and wind surfing, triathlon and open-water swimming at Rio. The tests concluded athletes risk exposure to viruses that could make them too ill to compete.

Rio spokesman Mario Andrada promised the organizing committee would do more in the rest of 2015 and early next year to clean up floating waste in Guanabara Bay and other waterways.

"The water around the bay currently complies with national and international standards," Andrada told the IOC.

In other news Saturday from the 128th IOC session:

-- During a discussion on ethics, Bach was asked whether the IOC keeps track of funding it provides to national Olympic federations, without referencing soccer body FIFA's recent corruption scandal. "National federations are accountable to their general assemblies, what we request are audited statements of accounts," Bach said. "But we cannot interfere in individual decisions of individual federations. We do our best."

-- Greek IOC member Lambis Nikolaou asked why the stadium used for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics couldn't be "renovated or retro-fitted, I think it would fit perfectly" for use in 2020. Coates reminded Nikolaou that the old National Stadium had been demolished this year. The new stadium will be built on the same site.