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Monday, May 28, 2012

EDITORIAL

Selling an Olympic image

Tokyo, along with Madrid and Istanbul, has made it to the final phase of the International Olympic Committee's selection process for the city that will host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, after the IOC's eliminated Doha and Baku from the list of candidates. But to become the host for the games, Tokyo needs to work out an effective strategy that captures the hearts of IOC members. Sixteen months remain before the final selection. Tokyo's ability to carry out a strong international lobbying effort will be tested.

In the first round of screening, importance has been attached to the conveniences of candidate cities — such as the conditions of roads and subway lines, and the number and quality of hotels. Clearly Tokyo's infrastructure is sufficient to host a large-scale international event. The IOC's Working Group gave high marks to Tokyo for providing compact and efficient plans. In that plan, 28 of the 31 facilities, including Olympic Stadium, would be located within an 8-km radius of Olympic Village.

Tokyo, which failed in its bid for the 2016 Games, plans to host the 2020 Games at half the cost proposed last time. It envisages a budget of about ¥7.5 trillion. Tokyo already has some ¥400 billion in preparation funds. It also has secured the central government's promise for financial assistance. But the IOC's Working Group has expressed concern about the effects of the 3/11 disasters and possible power shortages. It also pointed out that radiation exceeding the allowable limit was detected in some spots.

Another weak point in Tokyo's bid is that domestic public support hosting the 2020 Games is low — 65.2 percent compared with Istanbul's 87.1 percent and Madrid's 75.3 percent. In the Tokyo area alone, the support rate is only 47 percent.

The Working Group praised Madrid's plan for lessening the burden on athletes traveling to competition sites. Still, it expressed concern that, in view of the EU economic crisis, Madrid may face difficulty building facilities and finding sponsors. As for Istanbul, the group expressed concern about its infrastructure as well as its separate effort to host the European soccer championship game.

Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Games, and the Winter Olympics were held in Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998. Tokyo faces the difficult task of creating a concept attractive enough to overcome anticipated negative feelings toward Tokyo and Japan for attempting to host the Olympics yet again.



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