Tokyo's 2020 Bid Motives – Missing, or Misunderstood?

Saint Petersburg, Russia – In the race for the 2020 Olympic Games, Tokyo’s bid – often considered the one to beat – remains misunderstood.

Opponents in Istanbul want the Games to literally build bridges, or “bridge together” as their slogan suggests; and they want to experience the Games in their region for the first time.

Madrid wants to lead Spain out of their economic conundrum, and define a new, lower cost model for future Olympic Games.

But Tokyo has struggled throughout the campaign to define their unique role in the race. The team is quite eloquent in explaining what they plan to do and how it will happen – but stop short when it comes to succinctly explaining why they should be awarded the Games.

Masato Mizuno, CEO of Tokyo 2020, describes his bid’s plans with passion and excitement.

“Our vision is quite clear, that we guarantee to host wonderful, super-good Olympic Games to promote our core Olympic values for the next generations,” he told GamesBids.com Wednesday at the SportAccord Convention in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Promoting core Olympic values isn’t unique, compelling, and doesn’t need the Games as a prerequisite.

On Thursday, the Tokyo 2020 bid committee will present their plans to delegates at the SportAccord Convention – a meeting of international sports leadership. They’ll want to know why Tokyo wants the Games.

Mizuno explains, executing the plans for the Games is a critical component.

“We think, we must have a very clear vision, a clear ‘why’, but we can’t make the super-good Games with only a ‘why’,” he said.

“We must have a very strong ‘how’ too. Those two combinations make really great Games. So, we say yes, we have a good strong ‘why’, and also, a good ‘how’.”

Perhaps there is a hidden message there trying to come through.

Mizuno said his bid’s central message is that the IOC should award the Games to “a safe pair of hands”

“In this uncertain period of time you can rely on us.

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

When pushed, Mizuno made no reference of the Games aiding the recovery efforts following the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami devastation in Japan, as he did at the SportAccord Convention two years ago.

There was no altruistic commentary about how an Olympic Games in Tokyo would somehow help an entire region, or fulfill some kind of higher purpose.

We’ll put on an “ultra-compact Games with the athlete’s put first,” he said.

He mentioned the words delivery, celebration and innovation and then added excellence, friendship and respect.

Does there need to be a back-story to sell this bid?

At the SportAccord Convention in Quebec last year the IOC announced that public support in Tokyo polled at 47%. In March, a similar IOC poll showed 70% – an astounding increase.

Mizuno credited the improvement in support to the Japanese athletes’ success at the London Olympic Games. He said the bid worked with the television stations to provide more coverage of the Games and athletes.

It’s clear; Japan is solidly behind an Olympic Games.

Perhaps the ‘why’ is ‘why not’? Why can’t the Games be celebrated for the sake of sport, for the sake of the athlete’s and for the benefit of millions of passionate fans across Japan?

Why does there need to be another purpose?

Maybe that’s the ‘why’ Tokyo is looking for, or having a difficult time communicating.