ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose made a pitch for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games at an international conference Thursday in St. Petersburg, along with his rivals from Istanbul and Madrid.
Inose, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee, told the International Olympic Committee and other sports organizations his city would play its role as Olympic host full of passion, friendship and respect.
The presentations by the three cities, held at the SportsAccord convention, were the first on the international stage. The venue will be selected at an IOC meeting Sept. 7.
Inose tried to restore Tokyo’s reputation following the criticism he drew for making inappropriate remarks about Istanbul’s bid during an interview with The New York Times in April.
“I understand that many people are saying that our bid is the safe option in this campaign,” Inose said. “What I don’t understand is why some people seem to think that this could be a bad thing.”
Inose also played up Tokyo’s financial clout.
Tokyo, which hosted the Olympic Games in 1964, has already set aside $4.5 billion in an Olympic hosting fund as it aims to bring the Summer Olympics back to Asia for the first time since 2008 in Beijing.
“This is cash in the bank. Ready right now to pay for all new permanent venues and infrastructure,” he said.
Afterward, Inose said he thought his presentation was “received well, given audience reactions, applause and laughter.”
Fencer Yuki Ota, who won silver medals in the Beijing and London Olympics, joined the presentation. He said Tokyo will offer an Olympic Games in a safe and secure environment, stressing that Japan’s plans put top priority on the athletes.
Tsunekazu Takeda, president of the Tokyo bid committee, wrapped up the presentation. He said Tokyo would offer security in these uncertain times and contribute to efforts to pass the Olympic movement on to future generations.
“I think we got our message across,” Takeda said later. “We put in the practice and I think it went well. We put passion into our appeal.”
The three competing cities will next make presentations at a general meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees in June and a briefing session for IOC members in July.
The winning city will be announced in Buenos Aires in September.