Tokyo makes shortlist for 2020 Games

Overcoming low public support a challenge for Olympic bid

Kyodo

Tokyo and two other cities cleared the first hurdle Wednesday in the selection of candidates to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul moved to the final phase of the selection process after their bid plans got the nod from the International Olympic Committee Executive Board.

With Baku and Doha, the three cities were among the five bidding to host the 2020 Games after Rome’s withdrawal in February due to Italy’s financial crisis.

The Tokyo 2020 bid committee submitted its application to host the Summer Games in February, part of a vision to revitalize Japan following the devastation of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

According to reports by the IOC’s Working Group, which conducted a technical assessment of the five applicant cities, Tokyo was given high marks for providing compact and efficient plans for the competition venues, with 28 of the 31 facilities, including the Olympic Stadium, to be located within an 8-km radius of the Olympic Village, as well as ample accommodations for spectators.

The committee, however, was concerned about possible power shortages due to idled nuclear reactors.

Madrid got good marks for its athletic facilities as well as its abundant experience hosting international sporting events, as did Istanbul for its strong public and government support for the games.

Learning from its failed bid for the 2016 Games, which were awarded to Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo envisions securing the Summer Games at half the cost that was proposed last time.

Tokyo estimates a budget of around ¥7.5 billion for the bid, with 51 percent financed by the private sector and the rest by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Tokyo last hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics. Japan has hosted two Winter Olympics — in Sapporo in 1972 and in Nagano in 1998.

“We shall realize the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics with the whole of Japan working together” to win the bid, said Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara.

Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda said, “For realizing the games in Japan, it will be very important to gain support from the Japanese people. Active support is requested of all.”

Based on independent surveys, public support for Tokyo to host the games was conspicuously low — just 65.2 percent — compared with the four other cities when the bids were submitted to the IOC in February.

At 90 percent, Baku had the most public support, followed by Istanbul at 87.1 percent. Doha had 82 percent support and Madrid 75.3 percent.

The remaining 2020 hopefuls will have until Jan. 7 to present a detailed plan for the event.

Following an examination of the bid details and on-site inspections by the IOC evaluation committee, the roughly 100 members of the IOC will select a host in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7, 2013.