Tokyo’s determined bid for the 2020 Olympics

by Kazuo Ogoura

Tokyo’s “Candidate City” bid for the 2020 Olympic Games was officially recognized in May by the IOC (International Olympic Committee), and it looks quite natural in view of Tokyo’s reputation as a safe, clean and culturally rich megalopolis.

Indeed, it is rare to find among the major cities in the world, a city that is as free of crime, drugs, violent internal conflict, pollution and socio-religious taboos as the city of Tokyo. Besides, Tokyo left an excellent legacy after the 1964 Olympics in terms of sports venues, transport facilities and other infrastructure.

This point is very important for cities that want to hold the Olympic Games in the future, because it is generally believed that the financial burden of urban development and investment in infrastructure should not be too great a burden on the candidate cities. Tokyo, with its excellent public transport system and well-developed energy-saving devices, has an excellent claim to realize a compact and efficient great sports event.

Apart from the “natural” causes for bidding for the Olympic Games, Tokyo could claim that, by hosting the most important international sports event, it could make several precious contributions to the international community. One element of such contributions is related to the disaster that visited the northern part of Japan last year.

Tokyo, which suffered in terms of energy supply and food distribution, could, as the capital city of Japan, demonstrate to the world the results of its reconstruction efforts, the importance of the spirit of endurance and perseverance as well as the value of international support and encouragement.

Such a process could be shared and emulated by all those who have suffered and may suffer from internal violent conflict or a major natural calamity.

Tokyo could thus provide the world with a symbol of reconstruction and peace-building. Endurance, tolerance, friendship and social bonds — all qualities that personify the vital spiritual engine of reconstruction — also correspond with the spirit and motto of the Olympic Games.

Moreover, the significance of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games would go beyond the year and the spirit of Olympism. It would relate to the urban life ideal. Tokyo could further elaborate, redefine and promote the comfortable, safe, sound, clean, green citizen-life while raising Tokyo as a model city that is technologically advanced, benign to the environment, and gentle to the aged, handicapped and disadvantaged.

The City of Tokyo could launch an ambitious plan to make the city “more benign” by making the central part of the Olympic Games area barrier-free. By doing so, Tokyo could create yet another Olympic legacy that would not be simply confined to physical facilities but, perhaps more importantly, would encompass people’s mind-set on environment and welfare —a “spiritual” legacy of the Olympic Games.

Tokyo could enhance the real spirit of the Olympic Movement. Indeed, the true spirit of Olympism — sports “participation” by all people and for all people — can and should be the motto of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

First of all, Tokyo can provide the contesting athletes with an ideal environment and efficient facilities, thereby enhancing the spirit and power of sports activities to widen human frontiers.

Tokyo could also organize the games so that they could be enjoyed by children, women, the elderly and disabled people as well as by athletes and other sportsmen. Everybody should feel that he or she is a part of the games and not just a spectator of excellent performances.

The City of Tokyo is determined to make an “Olympics for all” by integrating, at least conceptually, sports events for children, women, the elderly and the disabled in some way or another during the sequence of events leading up to the Olympic Games.

An Olympics for all to create a new horizon — this is the true spirit of the Tokyo Olympic Games and the basic reason behind Tokyo’s intentions to bid for 2020.

Kazuo Ogoura is secretary general of the Council Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee.