POSTED: April 17th 2009

Happiness reigns here, says Tokyo

Ready and waiting: the site for Tokyo's proposed new Olympic stadium / lake images
Ready and waiting: the site for Tokyo's proposed new Olympic stadium / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

TOKYO: Tokyo’s bay-side reclamation scheme could hold one of the keys to the vote on hosting for the 2016 Olympic Games.

The Japanese city’s governor, Shintaro Ishihara, has no doubt that the IOC evaluation commission will have recognised the vast open spaces fringing the Bay at their true value.

Tokyo bid leaders began their guided tour of the city’s prospective Games venues by taking the Olympic inquirers – on the second of their four days’ work – to the vast expanses which would house the new Olympic stadium and the Olympic Village.

Both sites are products of the city’s innovative scheme to turn former waste dump areas into Olympic centrepieces.

Ishihara said: “Just having the land in the first place is very important. We have a daytime population of more than 13m so this produces a lot of rubbish and from these landfill sites, using today’s technology, we have created new land in the sea which had not existed before.

Futuristic potential

“I felt proud to show that to the commission. Building the stadium and village there shows the futuristic potential of Tokyo.

“Also, we have not had to spend money acquiring this land. This has meant only a small level of expenditure which must be a positive point for the IOC.”

The commission’s visit was watched by a group of anti-Tokyo-Games protesters but Ishihara did not evince any concern about his opinion that the city, in general, is backing the bid (in competition, on October 2 in Copenhagen, with Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.

He said: “There are always people opposed to something. There is hardly any country where you don’t find opposition of one sort of another. This is about people’s opinions. What effect that has is to be decided by the judges and referees of the IOC.”

Democracy rules

Dr Ichiro Kono, the bid ceo, echoed those words, saying: “Japan is a democratic country so the protest did not affect our tour which went very smoothly.”

Kono was pleased most of all that the tour schedule had worked to time. He added: “Finally I can smile. We had prepared a long time for this day and not only did the tour go smoothly but we had a good question and answer session on-site.

“I think we showed we are setting the stage for heroes – the stage being the venue itself because it is very compact and the city is vibrant and dynamic. I think the commission members were impressed by the bay area. Maybe they didn’t know Tokyo was a bay-side city and they were impressed to understand this.

“From our part we were very happy – and it seemed to me that their side was happy too.”

Tokyo officials say 23 of the 34 venues already exist. One significant site for a late-afternoon stop was the National Stadium which was the main Olympics venue in 1964.

The cauldron was lit to hail the commission’s visit . . . just as Ishihara, Kono and their colleagues hope to see it lit again in Tokyo in seven years’ time albeit, of couse, in a different stadium.

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

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