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Monday, Jan. 14, 2013

EDITORIAL

Tokyo's chances in 2020

The city of Tokyo on Jan. 7 filed its bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics with the International Olympics Committee in Switzerland. Tokyo failed in its bid to host the 2016 Olympics, losing to Rio de Janeiro.

It is said that Tokyo lost the 2016 bid because its lobbying activities aimed at IOC members did not go well. If Tokyo expects to succeed this time, bidding committee members had better hone their lobbying skills and powers of persuasion.

Besides Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid have announced their candidacy for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. Until Sept. 7 when the IOC announces the host city in Buenos Aires, the three cities will carry out full-fledged promotional activities at three large IOC-related meetings — May, June and July — in Europe.

In these meetings, the bidding committees of the three cities will be given a chance to explain their plans. Committee members will also be allowed to have direct contact with IOC members.

It's considered likely that the city winning strong support from IOC members by the end of July will become the host city for the 2020 events.

Istanbul has its strong points. Turkey is on the rise as a country thanks to rapid economic growth. The city would be the first in an Islamic region to host the Olympics. But Turkey could be affected by the political situation nearby, especially the civil conflict in neighboring Syria. A large number of refugees from Syria have already flowed into Turkey.

This is Madrid's third consecutive bid, and the city already has some support among IOC members. But Spain is suffering from the effects of a sovereign debt crisis and a poor economy.

Compared with Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics, Istanbul and Madrid have a basic advantage: The Olympics has never been held in an Islamic region or in Madrid. One could say, therefore, that holding the Olympics in Istanbul or Madrid would conform to the IOC's principle of spreading the games to venues throughout the world.

One view among sports officials is that Tokyo's hopes of becoming a strong host candidate will depend on the degree to which Tokyo residents increase their support for the bid.

An IOC survey last year showed a support rate of 47 percent. But apparently as a result of Japanese athletes' good performances at the London Olympics, the rate has topped 60 percent of late.

If Tokyo wants to host the 2020 games, it must gain the support and trust of more than 100 individual IOC members. The bidding committee will have to win over IOC members by explaining Tokyo's plan as well as the theme behind its bid and by showing their enthusiasm for the event.

Selling Tokyo's safety and comfort will be important. More important, though, is to show how Tokyo can contribute to the development of the Olympics and Paralympics movements.

Olympics lobbyists need to think deeply about their strategy before talking with IOC members.



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