Igaya focused on 2016 bid

by Kaz Nagatsuka

International Olympic Committee vice president Chiharu Igaya said there is a good chance for Japan to host the 2016 Games.

“I think a lot of people are wondering whether Japan has a chance to hold the Olympics,” Igaya, the silver medalist in the men’s slalom at the 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Olympics, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Igaya has been with the IOC since 1982 and was selected as the vice president in July.

“I believe there is enough chance for Japan, because it’s been a long time we had the Summer Olympics in 1964. So although we had two Winter Games after that, we can expect to have the opportunity (to host the Summer Olympics) in that respect.”

Right now, Tokyo and Fukuoka have already announced that they will run as candidates for the 2016 Olympics. Sapporo, the site of the 1972 Winter Games, is strongly considering it. And according to Igaya, Nagoya might be a candidate as well. The domestic candidate will be determined by next August.

That Japan has a chance doesn’t mean it will be an easy path to win the bid.

Igaya predicts that there will be about 10 cities that will run for the 2016 Games and there will be intense competition among the candidates like for the 2012 Games, which was eventually won by London.

At the moment, some 20 cities have already announced their candidacies.

There are other factors that may affect a Japanese candidate city. South Korea’s Pyeongchang, which lost its bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics to Vancouver this year, is currently running for the 2014 Games. Igaya said that if Pyeongchang wins the bid, it will be difficult to host Olympics two times in a row in Asia.

Also, Rio de Janeiro, which has declared it will run for the 2016 Games, will be a strong rival if its Pan American Games in 2007 end up in a successful fashion, as the Olympic games have never been hosted in South America.

Igaya said the IOC is not necessarily thinking of host Olympics by turn among the five continents — Asia, Europe, North and South Americas, and Africa. Not all continents, he said, are ready for an event of the magnitude.

“Especially for Africa, they need to establish firm system of education, housing and security matters before having an Olympics,” Igaya said, adding that the IOC certainly hopes to have Games in each continent by turn in the future.

The final voting to determine the site for the 2016 Olympics will be held in July 2009, following screenings and examinations in the fall of 2008.