OSAKA — Some 600 people including politicians, businesspeople and citizens gathered at the Osaka Municipal Central Public Hall to watch the live broadcast of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s announcement that Osaka has been named as a candidate to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

Participants at the meeting, sponsored by the Osaka Olympic Bid Promotion Conference, stood and cheered upon hearing that Osaka defeated Yokohama 29 to 17 in the JOC vote.

Osaka Gov. “Knock” Yokoyama, who was part of the crowd, said the Games will be a great chance for Osaka to appeal to the global community, revitalize its economy and boost international cultural exchanges.

He said holding the Olympics outside of Tokyo “will also be an opportunity to push the movement for stronger regional autonomy,” stressing the importance of gaining nationwide support until 2001, when the host will be named.

Yasuo Shingu, chairman of the Kansai Economic Federation (Kankeiren), said the gathering should not be taken as a celebration party but rather a ceremony before a battle.

“Today’s decision only made us qualified to participate in an international match,” Shingu said. “The crucial moment is still ahead.”

Takao Fujikawa, a fourth-grader in Osaka who participated with his family in the city’s campaign, said he hopes Osaka will host the 2008 Olympics, adding that by that time he will help out as a 20-year-old man.

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