ASIJ student McNeill helping to boost Tokyo 2020′s bid

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

There are no definitive guidelines in place, no simple slogans summarizing how individuals and groups should support or oppose an Olympic bid. Of course, it’s up to them.

Longtime Japan resident Jeff McNeill and his son, Mark, possess the enthusiasm that many within Japan’s international community have for Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Mark McNeill, an 11th-grader at The American School in Japan, spearheaded the school’s student council project to collect signatures from high school students, their names symbolic of their backing of the bid.

ASIJ has displayed Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee posters and handed out stickers and pins to demonstrate its support, Jeff McNeill told The Japan Times.

“For me, the opportunity to help bring the Olympics to Japan is a way to help give back to my community and promote a global way of thinking,” Mark McNeill, 17, wrote in an email on Friday. “Although collecting signatures is only a small part of the larger effort being undertaken by many people, I hope it can help symbolize the enthusiasm and grass-roots commitment of the people here to celebrate the ideals of the Olympic movement.”

The younger McNeill added, “Hosting the Olympics offers a chance for the people of the host city to be a part of history. For people of all ages, Olympic and Paralympic athletes provide great role models, and their dedication and determination is extraordinary. The Olympic model of friendly cooperation among athletes of a multitude of nations offers a great paradigm for countries to work together in various arenas, not only sports.”

The ASIJ signature drive has involved student-led efforts at various sporting events this spring and at St. Mary’s International School in Tokyo. Nishimachi International School has also played an active supporting role.

These activities are part of a broader support in conjunction with the Tokyo American Club (TAC) and American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ).

International Olympic Committee members will vote on Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires to choose the host for the 2020 Summer Games. Istanbul and Madrid are the other candidate cities.

In Japan’s international community, which numbers around 2 million people, Jeff McNeill, believes there is strong support for the 2020 bid.

“The ACCJ established a special Tokyo 2020 task force to help efforts to bring the Olympics/Paralympics to Japan and has expanded it to include other international organizations,” Jeff McNeill noted. “In addition to the American Chamber of Commerce, the leaders of the international chambers of commerce in Japan representing nine other countries (Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and Finland) have provided testimonials thus far in support of bringing the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics to Tokyo.”

“There is a great interest in the international community in sports and the ideals that the Olympics and Paralympics espouse, in particular the ideal of encouraging worldwide international cooperation that a movement like the Olympics symbolizes,” Jeff McNeill, president of Market Makers, Inc., a firm established in 1987 that specializes in marketing and sales for foreign companies in Japan with an office in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, wrote in an email.

“The widespread support in the international community for bringing the Olympics and Paralympics to Japan reflects this common interest, and the belief that Tokyo would make a wonderful host city if it is selected.”


As of Friday afternoon, about 85 percent of the targeted 2,020 signatures, individuals from 39 countries had been collected. The signatures will be handed to the Tokyo Bid Committee at a to-be-determined date. Call it a symbolic gesture for the capital city’s Olympic bid.

“Many people in the international community are very excited about the idea of bringing the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics (to Tokyo),” said Jeff McNeill, who has an MBA from Harvard Business School. “Clearly there are many sports enthusiasts in the international community and people who support the Olympic ideals. Tokyo is a wonderful city, and many of the international community are highly committed to supporting the city in whatever way they can.”

He added: “Given the international nature of the Olympics and Paralympics, which brings athletes together from over 200 countries around the world, it is especially appealing to the international community in Japan . . . And obviously, the opportunity to be able to experience the Olympics and Paralympics in one’s own ‘backyard’ appeals to many of the international citizens here.”

The London Olympics made a big impression on him.

While watching the 2012 Summer Games, he said, “there was much pride among the residents in the successful staging of the Olympics, and the chance to be a part of the Olympic history and legacy also holds great appeal to many of the international residents here in Tokyo that I have talked with.”

Naturally, a son often shares similar viewpoints as his father.

Case in point: The Tokyo 2020 bid.

Listen to Mark McNeill describe his thoughts on the subject:

“I feel it is very important to get the international community involved in supporting the Tokyo bid since the Olympics and Paralympics involve over 200 countries and are one of the most international events imaginable. I hope the IOC will understand that the international community in Tokyo strongly supports hosting the 2020 Olympics and is committed to making it successful for all participants if Tokyo is chosen as the host city.”