With exactly one year to go until the reorganised opening ceremony, Team GB chef de mission Mark England is frantically redrawing his best laid plans and piecing together a jigsaw puzzle of flights, accommodation and training facilities and so much more.

But the looming issue of athlete protests looks set to dominate the build-up, with the International Olympic Committee remaining steadfast in their view no athlete should be able to stage a political protest in Tokyo.

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Their athletes' commission head Kirsty Coventry insists all options are on the table despite the Olympic Charter banning all forms of political protest.

"We would absolutely support athletes in whatever way they collectively choose to support Black Lives Matter," said England, the word collectively clearly being an important caveat.

What is important is the British athletes have the opportunity to feed into what is right and appropriate to express that support. We are pushing our athletes' commission really hard to work closely with the IOC's athletes commission.

"Some may take the view that the field of play and the podium is sacrosanct but others may choose that actually it gives them the highest profile and therefore that is the right and appropriate place. We will listen to what comes out and create the right environment for that to happen.

"Since Harry Edward won two bronzes in 1920, we've got a century of black athletes being a hugely important and integrated component of Team GB. That's what we are and what we stand for. Our differences are what make us special."

England, who also fronted the team in Rio, still expects a team of approximately 380 athletes to travel and remains confident Team GB will have more women than men for the first time in its history.

Team GB will support athletes' collective decision to protest at Tokyo Olympics

Image credit: Getty Images

In nearly two decades with the British Olympic Association England has seen Team GB graduate from the nadir of Atlanta - when they mustered just a single gold - to an Olympic powerhouse, winning a combined 183 medals at the last three Games to finish fourth, third and second on the medal respectively, the impact of millions of pounds worth of National Lottery funding paying spectacular dividends.

Tokyo was always going to represent a challenge, with many of the stars of 2012 and 2016 either retired or fading from top-level status.

Add to that the expected home advantage for a well-funded Japanese team, who ranked sixth on the medal table four years ago.

However, the postponement of the Games against the backdrop of a global pandemic means England is keen to tell a different story that won't just be measured in the glow of gold, silver and bronze.

"I just wonder whether it's time for the narrative to change slightly, given what's happening in the world right now," added England.

"I'm hesitant to say 'more than medals' because that is churning out a strapline.

"But this is a real opportunity to see what's right in this world and to see what is important and to reflect on that a little bit.

"If you ask me whether I think we'll do well, yes I do. If you ask me whether we'll win more medals than in Rio, it's bloody tough."

Reporting by Sportsbeat

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