Tokyo inspired by spirit of London in race for 2020 Olympic Games
Thursday 10 January 2013
The impact of London's Olympics has been felt as far away as Japan, with Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Games boosted by a rise in public support thanks to the success of last summer's event in Britain.
Tokyo is one of three cities that submitted bid books to the International Olympic Committee this week to begin eight months of intensive campaigning ahead of September's decision day. The Japanese capital is the favourite ahead of Istanbul and Madrid and the increase in domestic backing for the bid has played a part in that standing.
More than half a million people turned out for a welcome home parade for Japan's Olympians last year even though they finished lower in the medal table than four years previously. The bid team believes that turnout was inspired by the huge crowds and passionate support on show in London.
One of the reasons Tokyo lost out to Rio de Janeiro in bidding for the 2016 Games was down to lukewarm support back home. But since the summer that has changed. The city's governor, Naoki Inose, today highlighted London's reach as Tokyo launched its international campaign.
"It was thanks to the Games in London," he said of the increased public backing for hosting the summer Games for the first time since 1964. "I saw first-hand how the London Games inspired people all over the world."
London's influence is telling across the bids, particularly with the use of the other "L" word, legacy. While the success of significant parts of London's legacy in the UK remain to be seen, the prominence given to it in the capital's bid was significant and it is one the current bidders have also enthusiastically adopted.
Tokyo's bid is considered the safe option. Much of the infrastructure is in place, while the stadium, a stunning design by Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-British architect responsible for London's Aquatic Centre, will be built for the 2019 Rugby World Cup final regardless of where the 2020 Games end up. It would be the first Olympic stadium to have a retractable roof.
The bid is also the most financially sound, a factor likely to have increased weight in the current economic climate. Tokyo has a proposed budget of £4.9bn, compared with Madrid's £1.7bn and Istanbul's £13.2bn. The Spanish capital claims most of its venues and infrastructure already exist – part of the pitch is that a Games would help reinvigorate the city's and country's economy – while Istanbul has most of its building to do. All figures should be treated with some caution – London's bid budget was £2.4bn, its final budget over £9bn.
Istanbul's main advantage is it would take the Games to a new country, often a factor that appeals to IOC members.
In March, Britain's Sir Craig Reedie will lead the IOC evaluation commission on an inspection of each bidding city, with their report released in July. That month the cities will also make a presentation to the IOC executive board before final presentations and a vote take place at the full IOC assembly in Buenos Aires on 7 September.
2020 visions: The rival bidders
Strengths Bidding for the fifth time – the IOC appreciates dedication to the cause – and bidding to take the Games somewhere new.
Weaknesses Most of the building work remains to be done. Transport a potential problem.
Strengths Bid in 2012 and 2016 and much infrastructure is in place. Spanish sport is in a good place.
Weaknesses Spain's economy is not in a good place – and Rome pulled out of the contest last year because of economic factors.
Strengths The safe option with strong finances, strong government support and growing public backing.
Weaknesses At today's international launch had to rebut questions over the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear issues.
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