Buenos Aires, Argentina – At the end of a two-year campaign, the name in the envelope was ‘Tokyo’,
It was decided after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) members voted during their 125th session in Buenos Aires Saturday.
On the final ballot, Tokyo garnered a resounding victory by a count of 60 to 36 over Istanbul. On the first ballot Tokyo received 42 votes compared with 26 each for Madrid and Istanbul, forcing a run-off ballot which Istanbul won 49 to 45.
Fears of the radioactive leak at Fukushima, concerns over the proximity to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games in South Korea, rumours that Madrid was quickly gaining ground as the “new safe choice” – none of it mattered. The IOC members knew what they wanted. They wanted Tokyo.
Tokyo boasts a $4.5 billion “slush fund” from which they’ll leverage to construct ten new permanent venues – a legacy and future monuments to the Olympic movement. The bid collected over 90% popular support for their efforts – a significant increase from numbers that were around 50% last year. The city has a modern infrastructure, a safe environment and a huge potential for sponsorships.
The members knew their choice was Tokyo from the start. With a 24 vote margin of victory it would be remiss to say that any one thing, one presentation, one gaffe or one issue decided this race. It was many things.
With Madrid came financial risk – high unemployment, reduced spending and makeshift venues that included turning a bullring into a basketball arena.
With Istanbul came potential headaches – proximity to unstable regions, a government that lacks popular support and demonstrations that turn violent.
Japan also has a crystal clear doping record, not a single positive test. Turkish athletes had 31 violations just last month.
Of course the IOC chose Tokyo.
After the host contract was signed, literally five minutes later, IOC President Jacques Rogge was already advising the new Games host city.
“The first thing they definitely need to do is define the concept of the organizing committee,” he said.
Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda’s response, “we will launch the organizing committee within 5 months”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzu Abe, was part of Tokyo’s presentation. At press conference later he said that he was stirred with much emotion at the announcement.
“I got really emotional, I was touched, overwhelmed,” he said.
“The emotion was greater than winning in my own election.
“It means we are going to have hopes and dreams into the future.”
He explained that now was the time to give back to the world, deliver a great Games to the world that had helped support Japan through the devastation suffered when an earthquake and tsunami struck the nation in 2011.
“During the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games I am determined to show to the world that Japan accomplishes remarkable reconstruction and stands at the forefront of the world once again.”
“I believe this is the best way to reciprocate,” he said.
“Tokyo is going to be the centre of the world and we were given that opportunity.
“We really need to respond to the expectations.”
Abe said he is also counting on the Games to help boost the stagnant economy.
“I hope that this victory will help wipe out that negative trend in the past. This is a good chance to deflect the retraction.”