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Inspection head Coates praises Abe for Tokyo preparedness

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, August 28, 2020. Franck Robichon/Pool via REUTERS

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Influential Olympics official John Coates praised Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday for his work in getting Tokyo ready for the now delayed 2020 Olympic Games and said he was personally disappointed to see him forced to step down.

Abe, 65, announced his resignation due to poor health on Friday.

Australia’s Coates heads up the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Coordination Commission for the Games, which were postponed until 2021 because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is disappointing news from a professional and personal perspective,” Coates said in a statement.

“With his government’s firm commitment, the Tokyo Olympic Games Organising Committee’s readiness to host the Olympic Games was quite extraordinary. Japan was ready, but due to COVID we now look to next year.

“His support has been enormous.”

Abe was also praised by the IOC and International Paralympic Committee.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Sandra Maler

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