September 11 - Japan's Sports Minister Hakubun Shimomura is set to be charged with the task of overseeing preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, it was announced as Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's initial plans for the showpiece event were revealed today.
The Government is also considering the establishment of a dedicated sports administration agency "to integrate policies regarding sports" ahead of the Games, which were awarded to the Japanese capital at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Buenos Aires last Saturday (September 7).
The move is aimed at unifying preparations for the Games because, as it currently stands, Shimomura's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology will look after the Olympics, while the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare will care for the Paralympics.
Abe has promised to make Tokyo 2020 an exceptional Games for the world's athletes, not least of all Japan's own team, for whom the Government has set the target of a haul of 25 to 30 gold medals - almost doubling the nation's previous best of 16 from its last home Summer Olympics in 1964 and Athens 2004.
Having finished in 11th and 24th place, with seven and five golds, on the overall medal tables at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics respectively, the Government knows there is much work to be done to reach this target and is requesting a dedicated 1.5 billion yen (£9 million/$15 million/€11 million) budget to support the cause.
"As the host country Japan must take it upon itself to help the top athletes from around the world perform their best," Abe told a special cabinet meeting on the Olympic preparations.
He added that Tokyo 2020 will be "a golden opportunity for Japan to show the world how it has recovered from the Great East Japan Earthquake" of 2011, which killed more than 15,000 people and caused the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant - that was still leaking radioactive water earlier this month.
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