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Tokyo Makes Environment A Priority In 2016 Bid

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COPENHAGEN — Tokyo has spent months telling how important the environment is to its bid for the 2016 Games.

Now it's showing it.

Using a large, interactive globe that shows, among other things, the far-reaching spread of pollutants and possible effects of global warming, Tokyo's organizers said Tuesday their plans for the 2016 Games could be a model not just for future Olympics, but for cities worldwide.

"If Tokyo, with a dense population of 30 million, can achieve this goal ... it will be great encouragement for the whole world," said Shin-ichi Takemura, an environmental expert who is part of the Tokyo 2016 design team.

Tokyo is competing with Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro for the right to host the 2016 Olympics. The International Olympic Committee votes Friday, and each of the four cities is trying to set itself apart in these last few days.

Like Chicago, Tokyo has a compact bid that would put most athletes within a few minutes of their competition venues. That plan also would allow Tokyo to put on an environmentally responsible games that could leave a 50-year legacy. Several venues from the 1964 Olympics will be renovated and refurbished, and the Olympic stadium would be powered completely by solar energy — a first in the world.

"In the Olympic charter, the IOC makes clear its commitment for the Olympic Games to contribute positively to the future of our planet," Takemura said. "I believe the Olympic Games, as the biggest international celebration of humanity, can be a distinguished media to raise the consciousness among global citizens that we are sharing one globe.

"I firmly believe the IOC can benefit the planet, and Tokyo is the best place to help the IOC achieve this goal."

Japan's new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, announced Monday that he will come to Copenhagen to personally lobby for Tokyo's bid. But that news was overshadowed a few hours later when President Barack Obama announced he, too, would travel to Denmark and be part of Chicago's final presentation.

The presence of heads of states has been instrumental in recent votes. Tony Blair spent two days meeting one-on-one with IOC members in his hotel suite ahead of the 2012 vote in Singapore, and his sincerity and enthusiasm is widely credited for helping London win those games. Vladimir Putin did much the same thing two years later, when Sochi won the 2014 Games.

Obama has been an ardent supporter of Chicago's bid dating back to his days as a senator, and some feel the presence of the charismatic young president in Copenhagen will be key for his adopted hometown.

Dr. Ichiro Kono, chair of Tokyo 2016, acknowledged Obama's appeal, but said that will only motivate his committee to work harder these last few days.

"It is good for us, because head of states having interest in the Olympic movement is a good thing fundamentally," Kono said. "Of course it's a tough action toward our bid, but it encourages us and stimulates us further."

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