Beijing, Mar 13 : China is making every effort to be prepared for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but serious challenges are ahead, several Chinese sports officials told Xinhua here in recent interviews.
They made these comments as members attended the ongoing session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body.
"We have paid great attention to the Tokyo Olympics and will strive for good results," said Gao Zhidan, deputy director of China's General Administration of Sport, adding that the main task in 2019 is to compete for the best results in the qualifiers in order to earn as many berths as possible in Tokyo.
China will face tough challenges in Tokyo, added Gao, and many of them are posted by the competitive hosts. "Japan has the home advantage," Gao said. "And they have greater dominance in the five newly-added sports including karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing, baseball and softball, which were named by Japan to be included in the Tokyo Olympics."
Under the IOC reforms, known as "Olympic Agenda 2020" launched in 2014, host cities are allowed to propose the inclusion of one or more events for their games in order to attract a local audience. The Tokyo organizers' proposal was approved in August 2016.
Apart from these new additions, Japan has built its figure as a powerhouse in many traditional sports as well, Gao warned.
Japanese table tennis players have made rapid progress in recent years. Headlines went to the 15-year-old Tomokazu Harimoto when he beat China's Lin Gaoyuan in the 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals and became the youngest player to have claimed the men's singles championship.
"We shouldn't overlook Team Japan as they have invested a lot into this sport," said Wang Liqin, deputy director of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, stressing that the association has gathered a new team aimed at Tokyo. "In terms of staffing, the coaches and the players are among the top players who understand table tennis best," Wang added.
"We have to maintain and consolidate already-existing advantages in sports events, and to enhance athletes’ sense of responsibility through constant training and education," Gao said.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which will feature 339 events, will be held from July 24 - August 9, 2020. XINHUA