Games report mixed but Tokyo upbeat

Kyodo News

A day after the International Olympic Committee gave Tokyo a mix of high and low marks in its evaluation report of the 2016 Olympics host candidate, the Tokyo bid committee said it remained convinced it will prevail.

“We are extremely pleased to receive such a high evaluation,” said Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda at a press conference held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters Thursday. “We feel convinced that this is a big boost toward our goal of hosting the games.”

The release of the report assessing the technical bids of the four candidate cities — Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo — came exactly one month before the IOC vote in Copenhagen on Oct. 2. The report will serve as reference data for the delegates when they cast their secret ballots in the Danish capital.

Tokyo, bidding to host the Summer Olympics for the first time since 1964, was praised for its vision and concept to stage a compact games, efficient public transport and financial guarantees.

However, concerns were raised regarding Tokyo’s lack of public support — the lowest of the four bidding cities at 55.5 percent — while low marks were also given for existing venues, operations and land area for the athletes’ village.

Takeda, however, said there was little difference in the pluses and minuses in the report among the four cities and also stressed that the low public support reflected the result of a survey conducted back in February.

“This time, good points and bad points of the four cities were clearly shown in the report. There wasn’t a big difference. In particular, Tokyo was praised for the points it stressed. We want to appeal for support until the very end.”

“The support rate is from February’s survey and after that it has been growing a lot. We want to show that the Japanese people are passionate about the Olympics,” Takeda said.

Masahiro Nakajima, executive director of the Tokyo 2016 promotion office, also stressed that all of the concerns raised in the report can be resolved.

It was pointed out that the report reflected the IOC evaluation committee’s inspection of the Japanese capital conducted in April and did not include an explanation of a presentation done for IOC members in June.

“The support rate is gradually growing. We want to show our spirit that is not shown in the report and show that we can host a wonderful Olympics,” said Mikako Kotani, a bronze medalist in synchronized swimming at the 1988 Seoul Games and executive board member of the Tokyo 2016 bid committee.

Takeda said the Tokyo bid committee looked forward to responding to the IOC’s concerns. Tokyo has already secured a special ¥400 billion budget for the games.

Rio de Janeiro, which is aiming to become the first South American city to host an Olympics, received high marks in the report, despite a low initial evaluation last June.

Fifteen Tokyo assembly members, including representatives from the Democratic Party of Japan, which won last Sunday’s national election, will be sent to Copenhagen for the IOC session. They will be in Denmark from Sept. 29 to Oct. 4 to campaign for Tokyo’s bid.

The IOC team visited each of the four candidate cities in the spring and gave Tokyo a rosy report, but stopped short of laying out in detail how the four-day inspection will influence their final decision.

Chairwoman Nawal El Moutawakel said the inspectors were most impressed by the concept of hosting a compact Olympics, in which 97 percent of the venues would be located within 8 km of the Olympic Stadium.

Moutawakel said the evaluation team was also convinced of the legacy of the Olympic Stadium, which would seat 100,000 people, and other proposed venues for the games.

Tokyo hosted the first Olympics in Asia in 1964 and Sapporo held the first Winter Olympics in Japan in 1972. Nagano, located in the Japanese Alps, staged a second Winter Games in 1998.