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Japan PM says Tokyo 2020 will be 'inspiring'

TOKYO (AFP) –

Members of the delegation of the Tokyo bid of the Japanese Olympic Committie pose in Lausanne on January 7, 2013

Members of the delegation of the Tokyo bid of the Japanese Olympic Committie pose prior at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne on January 7, 2013. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo could be an inspiration for other cities if it wins the right to host the 2020 Olympics, after becoming the first place in Asia to get the Games in 1964.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday Tokyo could be an inspiration for other cities if it wins the right to host the 2020 Olympics, after becoming the first place in Asia to get the Games in 1964.

Promising his government’s “fullest” support for Tokyo’s new Olympic bid, Abe told inspectors from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that hosting the Games was his “life-long dream”.

“Tokyo, 2020, will inspire many others, just as Tokyo did before in 1964,” the conservative premier said at a reception welcoming a 14-member team from the IOC evaluation commission.

The team, led by IOC vice president Craig Reedie of Britain, started four days of scrutinising Tokyo’s Olympic blueprint and inspecting existing and planned facilities for 2020.

It will visit the other candidates, Madrid and Istanbul, later this month before drawing up a technical report on the three bids for the 101 IOC members who will vote to choose the 2020 host on September 7 in Buenos Aires.

Abe, a former archer who heads the national archery federation, said “the Olympic spirit was the same spirit with which Japan grew to its height”.

“And yet, in Asia, in 1964, Japan was a lone industrialiser,” he said. “So for the Japanese, the Olympic spirit became a mission that we must help the rest of Asia to grow.”

“Soon, the questions we face now in Japan will be the same questions many others will face — like how best to rejuvenate an ageing society, how clean and clear you can keep your sky,” he said.

“That’s why the torch must come to Tokyo again.”

Abe’s grandfather Nobusuke Kishi, who was prime minister himself from 1957-1960, also helped invite the 1964 Games to Tokyo when Asia started moving forward after World War II.

The IOC team, including six voting IOC members and several advisers, is tasked with checking “Candidature Files” submitted by the three cities in January on 14 themes including infrastructure, finance, and political and public support.

Tokyo’s plan features a “compact” and “dynamic” Olympics based on its financial wealth and track record in hosting international sports events.

It also underlines that a strict construction code makes buildings in Tokyo highly resistant to big earthquakes and levels of radiation in the city are relatively low despite the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Shinzo Abe speaks following a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington on February 22, 2013

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks following a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on February 22, 2013. Abe said Tokyo could be an inspiration for other cities if it wins the right to host the 2020 Olympics, after becoming the first place in Asia to get the Games in 1964.

Tokyo is the only one among the three candidates that has ever hosted an Olympics.

The city lost out to Rio de Janeiro in the campaign for the 2016 Summer Games, with Rio now set to be the first ever South American Olympic host.

Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose, 66, showcased his sporting talents by playing tennis with last year’s Paralympic champion Shingo Kunieda at the Ariake arena, one of the venues in the 2020 plan, just before the IOC team inspected it.

“The IOC members have also been all engaged in sport and it will help me greatly if I can show them that I love sport,” said Inose.

According to Tokyo’s plan, four of the 37 venues will be for football matches and will be located well outside of Tokyo, including in Miyagi, a region still recovering from the March 2011 quake and tsunami disaster which sparked the Fukushima meltdowns.

Of the 33 other venues, 28 will be within eight kilometres (five miles) of a projected Olympic village by the sea.

One is a futuristic 80,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof to be built on the grounds of the National Stadium, the main 1964 Olympics venue, at an estimated cost of 130 billion yen ($1.4 billion).

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