Tokyo Olympic bid committee makes last-ditch pitch for 2020 Games

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

Delegates from Tokyo’s Olympic bid committee made their final pitch to land the 2020 Summer Games and Paralympics on Saturday at the International Olympic Committee’s general assembly in Buenos Aires.

Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo were each allotted 45-minute slots to make their final presentations in the Argentine capital ahead of the vote in the early hours of Sunday morning Japan time.

“Representing the Japanese people, I’d like to say thank you,” Princess Hisako of Takamado told the IOC members in French at the start of the presentation.

“Japan’s northeast region suffered the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The International Olympic Committee and people in the field of sports extended helping hands to us,” she said. “Japan won’t forget what you have done for us. In return, we will work hard toward the future.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe then stressed that Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world, and that his government is implementing a program to solve the problem of highly radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

“Some may have concerns about Fukushima. Let me assure you, the situation is under control,” he said, adding that Tokyo has not been impacted by the nuclear disaster. “It (the Fukushima crisis) has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.”

Abe flew directly to Buenos Aires from Russia, after attending the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg.

Tokyo’s presentation included speeches by bid committee President Tsunekazu Takeda, Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose and Mami Sato, a Paralympic athlete who attended high school in Sendai, which was badly hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Back in Tokyo, more than 200 invitees listened intently to the presentation at a special event in the Marunouchi district organized by the 2020 bid committee.