The bookmakers were right after all. Tokyo beat out Madrid and Istanbul to win their bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. “This is a credit to the efforts of the entire nation,” said Saori Yoshida, the bid ambassador and three-time gold medalist in women’s wrestling. This is the second time that Tokyo will host which comes after two previous consecutive bid failures.
International Olympics Committee President Jacques Rogge congratulated the Japanese capital on their “excellent bid” and “comprehensive victory”. 94 voters from the IOC convened in Buenos Aires to decide the fate of the three bidders, with Madrid going out in the first round, leaving them to choose between Istanbul and Tokyo. The Japanese city won the vote comprehensively, 60 to 36. Tokyo governor and bid chairman Naoki Inose was grateful for the “voices of support” of the people from Japan which he said they could feel all the way in the Argentinian city. “I am overjoyed to learn that our dream has come true,” he said.
While Tokyo had been the favourite in the lead-up to the voting, it was also haunted by questions about the clean-up problems at Fukushima. Even though the nuclear plant is more than 200 kilometers away from Tokyo, there were some fears that radiation and contamination issues could eventually affect the environment and the food situation, posing health risks. But the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself went to Buenos Aires to personally reassure the IOC that things are under control and that it would not affect their capability of hosting the games.
Experts say that Tokyo’s previous bids for the Olympics failed because while it was practical enough, it lacked the warmth, passion and personality that usually seals the deal, as London did in the 2012 games. This time around, Tokyo did not make the same mistakes. Their final presentation featured a surprise appearance from Princess Takamado, a member of the royal family who normally doesn’t leave Japan. Paralympic long jumper Mami Sato spoke about how sports can inspire and shared how 200 athletes visited towns, including her own, that were severely affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami to inspire the children to rise from that adversity.
The announcement of the decision was met with tears and jubilation in a convention hall in Tokyo where around 1,200 dignitaries and Olympic athletes were gathered to await their fate. Shouts of “banzai” rang all around as they celebrated the win. This bid had a 70% approval rating from Tokyo residents, according to the bid committee. The preparations for 2020 is expected to boost the morale and economy of Japan, after years of deflation and the after-effects of the 2011 disasters.
[ via The Guardian ]