Tokyo, Japan – On Wednesday night, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hosted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission (EC) at a formal reception at Tokyo’s Palace Hotel. The event that was attended by many dignitaries including Her Highness The Princess Takamado.
While remarks at the event were short, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to address a topic that has often been uncomfortable in Tokyo 2020 discussions.
Official remarks about Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami have been scarce while the IOC EC has been in Tokyo this week. While it seems natural that the bid might leverage the issue to gain sympathy and use recovery efforts to create a compelling reason for the Olympics to come to Tokyo in 2020, the issue seems to have been skirted to avoid any negative repercussions.
“Japan has its narrative that inspires many, that’s why we hope Tokyo will be chosen,” Prime Minister Abe said in his official address.
“The narrative is, ‘from devastation to revitalization.’”
Abe’s suggestion that the disaster and Olympics will allow Japan to help the world rather than the world helping Japan is a fresh take on how it can tie in with Tokyo’s bid
“It is about the disasters we endured, the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear failure. But it is also about the revitalization. The bridge between the two was compassion, courage and calmness that people showed each other.
“It could be a natural disaster. It could be a man-made disaster. But still, you can make a come-back. That’s the powerful message that Tokyo 2020 can send to the whole world.”
During Thursday morning’s session, the IOC reviewed the environment theme of the bid book.
Teruyuki Ohno, Director General of the Bureau of Environment presented to the EC and addressed questions.
He said that safety of the drinking water – an issue that arose after nuclear plant meltdowns due to the tsunami – was discussed with the IOC.
“We anticipated such concerns,” he said.
“In the overall session we addressed this. It wasn’t that the IOC was concerned.”
During the session, the IOC team was served tap water instead of bottled water to prove that it was safe to drink.
“I talked about the tap water, that’s why we offered the tap water to the IOC evaluation commission.”
Ohno described the EC reaction as a lighthearted response.
And he added, “Regarding the radioactive materials, we received no questions from the IOC.”