POSTED: January 16th 2013

Tokyo has special incentive to get the 2020 Olympic Games

Tokyo is a favorite of the bookmaker to get the Games for the first time since 1964 / Tokyo 2020
Tokyo is a favorite of the bookmaker to get the Games for the first time since 1964 / Tokyo 2020

Naoki Inose is the new Governor of Tokyo / House of Japan
Naoki Inose is the new Governor of Tokyo / House of Japan

JOHN GOODBODY / Sports Features Communications

January 16 - The Mayor of Tokyo believes that if his city gets the 2020 Olympics it will help Japan recover mentally and emotionally from the tsunami and nuclear disaster, which caused such human suffering in 2011 and also damaged the country’s economic advance.

Naoki Inose, who became the capital’s Governor last month, said that Tokyo, the bookmaker’s favourite to get the Games for the first time since 1964, was “ready, willing and able to make our vision of hosting the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics a reality.”

He said: "Since the bursting of the bubble economy in 1990, GDP was hovering at a very low range. A lot of people also lost their lives from the tsunami and were suffering from the nuclear accident. The big question is to set an uplifting objective for the Japanese people.”

Japan has the world’s third largest economy, while Tokyo’s GDP is the biggest of any city in the world. However,  the memories of the grief caused by the tsunami in March 2011 remains raw and construction work in the country, including proposed venues for the Games, continues to emphasise the ability of buildings to withstand an earthquake.

On a recent visit to London, where Tokyo opened its candidature file to an international audience, Inosesaid:”Radiation levels are normal in Tokyo. They are the same as here in London.” The Tohoku region in the north-east of the country, where a nuclear plant was damaged, is 220 kilometres (136 miles) from the affected area.

Although there was a temporary power shortage across the country following the catastrophe, Inose pointed to the building of gas power stations and underground storage depots which will ensure that power can be obtained in the extremely unlikely event of another earthquake during the exact period of the Games.

In its contest against Madrid and Istanbul, the two other candidate cities for 2020, Tokyo seems the safest choice for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), when it votes on September 7 in Buenos Aires.  However, the IOC members may well wish to take the Games to Turkey, a country of 70 million people, so breaking new ground to make it the first  Moslem nation to stage the event, just as they awarded the 2016 Games to Rio de Janeiro, the first South American city to host the Olympics.

Inose, who became the Tokyo Metropolitan Governor in a landslide victory in which he gained more than four million votes, the largest number ever obtained, argues:”When the Games are staged in a developing country, sometimes they bring in so much and make them stuffy and heavy. But in the case of London”(in 2012)”they were organised in a sophisticated way and, in that sense, London and Tokyo deliver a similar image.”

However, unlike Madrid and Istanbul, where many of the facilities already exist, Tokyo is planning a massive rebuilding programme should it get the Games. 70 hectares of water and land will be used for the Olympic Village, which will overlook Tokyo Bay, and nearby will be a cluster of new facilities. 87 percent of the athletes will have their competition within 20 minutes of the Olympic Village, with eight kilometres (five miles) being the maximum distance from the Village to 28 out of the 33 competition venues.

The city also has 140,000 hotel rooms within a 50 kilometre (30 mile radius) of the main Olympic sites and the city is renowed for the excellence of its train and metro system, with a total of 760 stations in the area. Visitors are invariably impressed with the efficiency of the public transport. Tokyo has much to commend it.

** JOHN GOODBODY covered the 2012 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 12th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001.

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Keywords · Tokyo 2020 · John Goodbody · Naoki Inose · Olympic bidding

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