IOC inspectors 'hugely impressed' by Tokyo bid
TOKYO (AFP) –
Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics enjoys “strong” government, business and public support, IOC vice president Craig Reedie said on Thursday at the end of a four-day inspection tour.
“We have been hugely impressed by the quality of bid presentations by the bid committee. Across the board, it has been excellent in every way,” the former head of the British Olympic Association told a news conference.
Reedie was heading a 14-member team from the International Olympic Committee evaluation commission tasked with scrutinising bids by Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul for the multi-billion dollar sporting extravaganza.
“We have witnessed the strong government support which the bid enjoys,” Reedie said, citing the presence of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ministers in some presentations.
Abe also hosted a dinner at a plush guest house near Akasaka Palace on Wednesday night for the IOC inspectors, also attended by Japanese medalists from last year’s London Olympics and Paralympics.
The team will travel to Madrid on March 18 for a similar evaluation tour full of presentations and visits to existing and planned facilities for 2020, followed by another to Istanbul a week later.
It will draw up a technical report on the three bids for the 101 IOC members before they meet in Lausanne on July 3-4 to hear bid cities pitch their plans to them. The IOC will vote to choose the 2020 host on September 7 in Buenos Aires.
“We also benefited from contributions from a wide range of the Japanese business community,” Reedie said.
“We’ve witnessed strong national support,” he added, after noting his team’s audience with Crown Prince Naruhito.
There was no involvement of Japan’s royal family when an IOC inspection team visited Tokyo four years earlier to assess its bid for the 2016 Games which the city lost to Rio de Janeiro.
Toyota chairman Fujio Cho told the team that Japan’s corporate giants are ready to chip in for another Summer Olympics in Tokyo, hoping the Games will provide the same economic boost as the 1964 edition.
“If Tokyo gets the 2020 Olympics, I believe businesses will become sponsors and support them,” Cho said on Tuesday.
Reedie also said there was an “enthusiasm for the Games that exists here in Tokyo”, recalling the huge gathering in the streets of Ginza to welcome Japanese athletes who had come home with a record haul of 38 medals from the London Games.
Many of the medalists — including three-time 55kg titlist Saori Yoshida and two other women’s wrestling champions as well as women’s judo champion Kaoru Matsumoto — met face to face with the IOC team.
“They were prepared to talk about what their hopes and dreams are, and comment about their sport and their city,” Reedie said. “We rate that very highly.”
“The best thing about the Games here would be exactly what happened in my own city of London,” said Reedie, who was instrumental in bringing the 2012 Games to the British capital.
“We share enthusiasm, the movement for sport, the development for sport… all of that will take part,” he said.
Japanese Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda, who heads the bid committee, said: “I am fully satisfied with what we have presented. We will work hard toward a success in the six months to come.”
Tokyo pitched to the team on 14 themes which the bid cities described in their “candidature files” in January. They included vision, finance, marketing, political and public support, transportation, security and environment.
About the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Takeda said his committee had produced “solid data to show radiation levels (in Tokyo) are lower than international (safety) standards”.
Reedie said they had asked the bid committee to report on the risks. “They are the experts and they have done so. We have noted their comments,” he said.