2016 Top 10: #9 Tokyo 2020’s Missed Promises Cast Shadow on Future Bids presents the ninth annual Top Ten list of Olympic Bid Stories for 2016. These stories impacted the course of Olympic host city bids, or the Olympic bid process, and formed interesting plot lines and story arcs for the year. We’ll run them down from 10th to 1st as the year ends – click on the links for details.

Top Olympic Bid Stories of 2016: #9 – Tokyo 2020’s Missed Promises Cast Shadow on Future Bids

Jacques Rogge opens envelope revealing Tokyo as winner of 2020 bid
Jacques Rogge opens envelope revealing Tokyo as winner of 2020 bid

When Tokyo won its bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, defeating rivals Istanbul and Madrid on the final ballot in Buenos Aires, organizers promised that the Games would be delivered with “a safe pair of hands.”

Masato Mizuno, CEO of Tokyo 2020 said at a presentation in St. Petersburg, Russia “in this uncertain period of time you can rely on us.”

“Our promise is part of our culture,” he said.

Indeed, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was in need of a “comfort” Games as they faced a skyrocketing budget for Sochi 2014 and further struggles emerging over the budget and preparations for Rio 2016.

But since being elected, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee has been tripping over hurdles with venue plan changes including the main Olympic Stadium, a trademark infringement scandal that forced the redesign of the Games emblem, and has seen its budget double with recently released figures showing that the new price will be between (USD) $13 billion and $16 billion.

A government task force in September suggested that costs could exceed $25 billion by the time the Games are delivered.

Mizuno had said before Tokyo was elected host city “you can rely on us to deliver.”

“We have the $4.5 billion, plus we have revenue from the IOC, revenue from ticketing and also marketing revenue (which) will make, I would say, $8.5 billion, which is the total budget”.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Masato Mizuno at SportAccord Convention in 2011 (GB Photo)
Tokyo 2020 CEO Masato Mizuno at SportAccord Convention in 2011 (GB Photo)

Earlier this year, Tokyo 2020 faced allegations that it acted unethically during its bid, paying large sums of money for dubious consulting work.  But the IOC has dismissed concerns, saying that payments were documented and there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

The IOC has learned that risk is inherent with all Olympic bids, even those in “safe hands.”  Reforms have been put into place by the IOC and its Agenda 2020 platform to help minimize costs and risks moving forward, but many potential bid cities have been spooked by the burden they believe comes packaged with the Games.

Los Angeles has put together a radically different proposal to help address concerns, suggesting that Southern California can organize the Games without paying for the construction of any venues, most of which already exist.  Paris and Budapest have proposed their own plans that they say will allow the Games to be organized without the chaos and risk.

But fears and uncertainty remain, and the IOC has been working closely with Tokyo officials throughout the year to minimize the concerns raised by Japanese plans, and any potential impact on future bids for the Games.

Watch or follow us on Twitter or Facebook and read the other top stories for the year listed so far, below.  We’ll be counting them down until January 1.

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A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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