POSTED: April 15th 2009

2016: More questions than answers . . .

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

TOKYO: Bidding to host sports events is a risky . . . sport. Like all sports it’s about winning and losing. But it’s also about tactics during the contest and the essential questions and answers at every interval.

Let’s start with tactics.

When contestants are of pretty much equal strength tactics can play a decisive role. Take the 2016 Olympic race. Chicago’s tactics lean heavily on the Obama Effect; Rio plays the Never-before-in-South-America card; Madrid boasts of its Almost-all-built status.

Tokyo, as the IOC evaluation commission is finding out this week, has a strong bid in terms of concept and infrastructure.

That, however, is not necessarily enough.

The challenge for each city is to find something different which will strike a timely chord with the voting members of the International Olympic Committee next October in Copenhagen.

Relevant boxes

All four bid teams know IOC president Jacques Rogge’s preferences. All four bid teams know to tick the relevant boxes: youth, legacy, anti-doping, environment, etc.

Sometimes – not only with bidding for the Olympics but with football’s World Cup and others – focus flies out of the window in pursuit of ever more grandiose issues.

Is it really up to the Summer Olympics, a sports event squashed into just two weeks every four years, to save the planet - as Tokyo's environment specialists appeared today to be suggesting? This, surely, is entering the realms of the surreal.

If Japan has crucial environmental solutions then it should not risk their development and exposure on the hazard of a vote among a hundred sports officials next October . . . and then wait another seven years to deliver.

Usual question

Bid ceo Ichiro Kono was asked about such a danger of losing focus but something was lost in translation. His answer bore no relation to the question but he doubtless gave an honest response to his perception of the inquiry.

More serious was the attempt to brush off a colleague who raised the “Korea antagonism” issue which stalks/haunts every Japanese bid to host anything.

At first the moderator refused to take the question; then, on being pressed, he pretended a microphone malfunction. Finally, Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara stumbled through the standard diplomat’s answer which he should have been primed to deliver, unhesitatingly, in the first place. 

Otherwise Okano professed himself “happy” with the commission’s first official working day from the standpoint of ‘Team Tokyo.’

Happiness reigns

He was happy with the friendliness of the commission members; happy with the amount of information delivered; happy with the manner in which his colleagues had played their part; and happy with the way they had addressed the commission’s questions.

Here we revert to the thorny issue of questions.

The questions asked by the commission are kept secret from the media because “IOC rules prohibit it.”


With due respect to Nawal El Moutawakel and her colleagues, what questions can so devastatingly threaten world security that they must be shrouded in secrecy? Or is there a fear that the commission members will be perceived NOT to be asking the most relevant questions?

But then, what does transparency matter by comparison with saving the planet?

Keywords · Tokyo · 2016 · Olympic Games · Kono · evaluation commission

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