Osaka announces details of bid to host '08 Olympics

OSAKA — The city of Osaka made public on Tuesday its formal plans to host the 2008 Olympic Games, one week after presenting them to International Olympic Committee officials in Switzerland as stipulated by committee rules. Osaka’s Olympic plans call for the majority of the 28 events to take place at 41 facilities in Osaka city. Total operating costs are estimated at around $2 billion, with about $770 million coming from television rights.

The opening and closing ceremonies are to take place in a yet-to-be-built 80,000 seat stadium on Maishima, a man-made island in Osaka Bay. The city hopes to host the Olympics between July 18 and Aug. 3.

Although Osaka had previously said it wanted to host a compact games with relevant facilities centered on one area, the plans unveiled Tuesday showed that some sports, notably soccer, would take place as far away as Saitama Prefecture in the Kanto region.

“We were told by the Japan Olympic Committee that it would be a good idea to spread out the soccer matches,” said Osaka Mayor Takafumi Isomura. In addition to Saitama Prefecture, soccer matches would also take place in Yokohama, the Nagoya area and Hiroshima Prefecture.

City officials said that based on technical merits alone, Osaka had a very competitive bid. However, they expressed anger and resentment about a statement by a senior IOC official a few days ago that indicated the 2008 Games are likely to be awarded to Beijing.

Dick Pound, a senior IOC official widely expected to succeed current IOC President Juan Samaranch, said during a gathering in New York over the weekend that human rights issues were the only real stumbling block to giving the 2008 Games to Beijing.

“We heard that comment and we are upset and disappointed. Osaka has conducted its bid fairly and openly and in line with IOC rules,” Noboru Yamada, director of the city’s Olympic bid bureau, said Tuesday.

Osaka is competing against Beijing, Paris, Toronto and Istanbul. IOC officials are expected to visit Osaka in late February to inspect local sporting facilities. The IOC Executive Committee will announce the winner at a meeting in Moscow in July.

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