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Tokyo 2020 Launches International Olympic Bid Campaign in London

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image Tokyo 2020 bid team fields questions from reporters (Tokyo 2020 photo)

Special: Andrew Iredale Reporting for GamesBids.com from London

After delivering their bid book to the IOC in Lausanne, London would appear to be a strange place for Tokyo to launch their international campaign, if it were not for the fact that London had just hosted successful and highly acclaimed Games six months ago.  Their reason became clear right at the start when Tokyo started their presentation full of praise for London 2012, stating that they aspired to host a Games achieving the same as London.  Making comparisons between the two cities, the Tokyo team stated their desire to “inspire a generation” on several occasions and boldly claimed that, like the London Paralympic Games, the Tokyo Paralympic Games would be a sell-out.

The event in London was Tokyo 2020’s first major effort to communicate with international audiences about the strengths of its Bid, highlighting its ability to deliver Games in the heart of the city with guaranteed quality and maximum benefits, in a celebratory atmosphere, using its world-renowned innovation and creativity to benefit sport and the overall Olympic Movement.  The Tokyo 2020 delegation at the Renaissance Hotel on Thursday morning included Tsunekazu Takeda – the Tokyo 2020 President, Japanese Olympic Committee President and IOC Member; Naoki Inose – the newly elected Tokyo Metropolitan Governor, Masato Mizuno – Tokyo 2020 CEO and Japanese Olympic Committee Vice President; Athlete ambassadors Homare Sawa – Four-time Olympian in football and 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner; and Takayuki Suzuki – Paralympic champion in swimming.

As bids go, there were a lot of plus points mentioned:  The financial security of the bid with $4.5Bn US Dollars banked, concerns over public support apparently improving with half a million lining the streets of Tokyo for the athlete victory parade after London 2012, a modern and safe city.  Whilst strong plus points, the money in the bank is only half a billion more than the $4Bn that they had in the 2016 race and an IOC-commissioned poll published in May 2012 showed public support was just 47% - the lowest of the candidates.

Delegates were shown a video featuring 17 year old Team GB Rhythmic Gymnastics athlete Lynne Hutchison, born in Tokyo with British and Japanese ancestry and competed in the London 2012 Games, who discussed how Tokyo “is a great city for young people.”  She said, “Tokyo 2020 is ready to inspire a generation like London did. Games in Tokyo will be a party!” 

During the press conference the Bid unveiled a two minute film entitled “Tomorrow Begins,” which underscored the city’s passion for sport. Images focused on Japanese and international athletes, spectators, and how Tokyo’s people, customs and cultures – as well as the city’s unique characteristics - will enhance and enrich the Games experience.  

Stressing the city’s “guarantee” to deliver, early and effectively, Takeda added: “In 2012 alone, Tokyo hosted more than 40 international cultural, sporting, and tourism events.  Few cities on the planet can come close to our organisational know-how.  Since so many of the basics are already in place in Tokyo, we will be able to focus on delivering unexpected ‘extras’ to make the Olympic Games experience unforgettable.” 

Mizuno added “We have hosted many international events in Tokyo and have developed ability way to administrate and run these events, so we are confident that Tokyo will be recognised as a ‘safe pair of hands’.  Under the slogan ‘Discover Tomorrow’ there are three elements:  Delivery, Celebration and Innovation. We have the confidence to run the Olympic and Paralympic Games smoothly.” 

Discussing legacy he said, “If we are successful in our bid, our research has shown that the Games would produce an economic benefit of over $30Bn US dollars and would create around 550,000 indirect jobs.”  Mizuno continued “The Games will also have an intangible legacy and we will establish an ‘Olympic Community’ which will promote more sports and a healthy living, with cultural programmes teaching the core values of Olympism: excellence, friendship and respect.  This would create jobs for retired athletes, so that we can help create a better society through hosting the Games.”

Eighty-five per cent of the Tokyo venues and all Olympic and Paralympic Family accommodation will be within eight kilometres of the Olympic and Paralympic Village.  All of the IOC members’ hotels will be less than 30 minutes from 94 per cent of venues. All spectator and workforce travel will be free by public transport.  Integrated circuit cards serving both as a ticket to Games competition and as free access to public transport in Tokyo. 

Those familiar with the sight of Tokyo’s Metro employees pushing commuters into trains can also be reassured: “We have quite a sophisticated transportation system.  Additionally, the Games would be held in August which is a vacation period for many Tokyo residents, therefore fewer people would be commuting to work during the Games.  We would expand capacity and increase the number of trains running during the games and are confident of avoiding congestion” said Mizuno.

Despite the ever growing ambassador programme, not a single athlete sits on the Bid Committee and the input of athletes in the planning of the bid is unclear.  Overall, the bid at this moment seems very capable, yet by simply aspiring to be like London and with very generic messages that could apply to any large metropolitan city, how they will attract the votes of the IOC members with an exciting, uniquely Japanese bid with a credible domestic sport participation legacy is yet to be seen.

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2020 Olympic Bid News Summary
Bid Status: Evaluation commission visits bid cities in March, 2013
Bid Date: September 7, 2013
Bid Location: IOC Session Buenos Aires, Argentina
Description: Bid to host 2020 Olympic Games
Bid Book: Link To Bid Book
Web Site: http://www.gamesbids.com