POSTED: February 9th 2009

Tokyo happy with timing

Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi stadium was used for in 1964 for swimming and would be used in 2016 for handball / Image: Tokyo2016
Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi stadium was used for in 1964 for swimming and would be used in 2016 for handball / Image: Tokyo2016

LAURA WALDEN and KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

TOKYO/TAMPA: Tokyo bid leaders do not think their pursuit of hosting rights to the 2016 Olympics Games will be damaged by the fact that the IOC vote – in Copenhagen next October – comes little more than a year after the Beijing Games.

Bids from Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro will also be competing for the favour of IOC members but Tokyo’s Senior Executive Officer Yosuke Fujiwara takes heart from the words of IOC president Jacques Rogge.

“I strongly believe Dr Rogge’s comment, when he said that the IOC has no rotation policy which was different from the way FIFA works with the football World Cup,” said Fujiwara whose optimism is enhanced by a view around the other forthcoming Olympic stagings.

Historic precedent

He added: “If you look at the next three Games – winter and summer – then you see they go to Vancouver, to London and then to Sochi in Russia so we really have confidence that the Games in 2016 can be hosted again in Asia.

“In addition, if you look at the history of the Olympics, from 1896, 103 years ago, Asian countries have hosted the summer Games only three times. Anyway, it’s not really so close from 2008 to 2016 to have two games in Asia.

“Also, visitors would find Japan very different to China. Japan is not like China just because it’s in Asia, there is a substantially different atmosphere. The people in Beijing were very kind and their and their hospitality was very good but each country has a different style and culture. It’s all about different people, different cultures.”

Tokyo officials and directors believe that the bid is strengthened by the massive pace of economic and industrial change in Asia in little more than a decade.

Fujiwara said: “The weight of Asia, not only politically but economically, has increased in the past 10 to 15 years – especially in China, India, Japan and Korea. I think that the weight of Asia is much stronger than before.”

Linguistic progress is a further sign of how far and how fast Japan has come.

“We know we have to try to improve our English language usage,” said Fujiwara, “but Tokyo receives millions of tourists every year and while many are native English speakers many of them are people who use English – like the Koreans, Chinese, Indians etc.

“So, for example, you see the signage in Tokyo on both the railways and the road is written in a couple of foreign languages. This process has dramatically increased in the last 10 years.

Major sports events

“Also, we have been hosting a lot of international sports events. For example, Tokyo has hosted more than 25 major international sports events last year alone. Also, in 2007 the world athletics championships were held successfully in Osaka as well as the FIFA World Cup in 2002 in various cities and both received excellent ratings for the world class organization.”

Intriguingly, Fujiwara does not believe the election of Barack Obama as US President can influence the IOC outcome next October despite the American and Chicago connections.

He said: “Mr Obama was born in Hawaii and became the first African-American president of the United States but the bidding process to host the Olympic Games is a very different matter so I don’t see that having any effect.”

Keywords · 2016 Olympic Games · Tokyo · Fujiwara · Japan · IOC · International Olympic Committee · Copenhagen

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