Sep 3, 2021

Putting athletes at the centre of the Olympics
The welfare and safety of athletes is paramount in all Olympic Games or for any games, for that matter, and this is the primary responsibility of all Chefs de Mission (CDMs). 

TOKYO, 06 AUGUST, 2021

Chefs de Mission must always put athletes first

According to Joey Miranda III, Chef de Mission (CdM) for Team Guam at the Tokyo Olympic Games, his advice to anyone interested in taking up the role in future is to, ‘Put athletes at the centre of your plans, because without them, you wouldn't be provided the privilege and opportunity to be at the Games.’

He said, ‘This is my second edition of the Olympic Games as the Chef de Mission for Team Guam as I was also bestowed the honor and privilege of serving the team in this capacity during the Rio2016 Olympic Games.
Team Guam at the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. | Photo: Team Guam

On a Games within a COVID-19 pandemic

‘Tokyo 2020 logistically, on ground, has been more challenging due to the ongoing pandemic.’

Discussing the pandemic and the logistics and protocols surrounding the organising of the Tokyo Games, he said, ‘It has provided us with the tools we need to showcase our prowess in attaining the goals of showing the world that we can continue to compete, enjoy our surroundings and reunite with our friends and colleagues provided we follow the stringent protocols that has been put into place for the safety of everyone involved including the people in the communities of the host country.’

Miranda shared that, ‘One of the more challenging aspects is ensuring the safety of our athletes and entourage while allowing them the opportunity to experience the Games.  

‘This is not just any other Olympic Games, but one being staged during times of uncertainty.  All eyes are on them, so trying to explain and making them understand that the best policy is to protect yourself at all times will aid in outweighing those who at times blatantly disrespect the policies and procedures that are implemented to host these Games.’

Pledging cooperation and respect for each other

‘We all committed through a pledge, to following the regulations before coming here, and therefore we all need to band together and respect each other so we can all go back to our respective countries knowing we did our best to showcase the disciplines we learned through sports and hopefully be able to reunite with our families, free from the ongoing contaminants of the pandemic.’

On preparation and delivery as Chef de Mission 

Miranda said that preparing for the Tokyo Olympic Games was more stringent than for the previous in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

‘The imposed measures from the Government of Japan needed to be met. 

‘Besides the usual competition, accommodation and accreditation details, we logged in the counter measures of COVID protocols which included regular updates and meetings, multiple and numerous testing, additional apps, and monitoring,’ he said.  

He further shared that, ‘This included the frequent changes in protocols for arrivals, departures, guest status, VIPs, and the most important, for Covid Liaison Officer.’

Lessons from Tokyo: challenge yourself and adapt

Miranda said that in terms of lessons from Tokyo 2020, ‘The biggest is that you need to be very aware of your surroundings, keep updated and increase the capacity of your application skills.

He said, ‘The Games will continue to evolve and if you don't adapt, your stress level will be elevated from the frustration you will experience with today's technological advancements.’

Message to sport administrators 

Miranda said he has learned several important things which are important for sport administrators interested in the role of Chef de Mission in future.

‘My advice to those seeking to be a CdM is to make sure you read the manuals front to end, and update your mobile phone capacity and capabilities.

‘Don't be afraid to challenge yourself, surround yourself with persons who are willing to make the same sacrifice that your athletes have made and always remember the reason you are here: Our Athletes!  

‘Put them at the center of your plans, because without them, you wouldn't be provided the privilege and opportunity to be at the Games.’

Tokyo lessons for Pacific regional games

Lastly, Miranda touched on the lessons extracted from Tokyo critical to future design and hosting of games in Oceania, especially in its Pacific island countries.

‘The games have also taught me the varying degree of difficulty it would take to host our regional games during any outbreak and the implementations and measures it would take to keep everyone safe.  

‘It is a major undertaking of which responsibilities should be shared by all stakeholders.’


Joey Miranda III is Chef de Mission (CdM) for Team Guam at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He served the same role at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He is also Regional Master Educator delivering on the ONOC Oceania Sport Education Programme (OSEP).