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Thursday, Aug. 31, 2006

Tokyo beats Fukuoka in bid to host '16 Games


Staff writer

The Japanese Olympic Committee on Wednesday named Tokyo as its candidate for the 2016 Summer Games, favoring its financial aptitude and international profile over Fukuoka's zeal and entrepreneurial spirit.

News photo
Tsunelazu Takeda, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, speaks at a Tokyo hotel Wednesday. KYODO PHOTO

Tokyo captured 33 votes on the committee to beat Fukuoka, which got 22 votes. The bidding race between the two cities began in June, when the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Fukuoka Municipal Government both submitted their proposals to the JOC.

Tokyo's 795 billion yen pitch, which excludes the cost of developing additional infrastructure to provide better access the sports venues, is to hold 301 events in the 28 sports at 36 venues around central Tokyo.

The winning proposal calls for a 16-day schedule with an Aug. 12, 2016, opening fete.

After signing the JOC contract to become Japan's official candidate, Tokyo will face another three years of hard global campaigning.

Fukuoka Mayor Hirotaro Yamasaki appeared disheartened by the defeat and did not comment on the loss during his news conference.

"There isn't much I can talk about regarding the voting," Yamasaki said. "Our proposal was great, and it's sad it won't become reality."

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara was meanwhile elated.

After signing the JOC contract to become Japan's official candidate, Tokyo will face another three years of hard international campaigning.

Tokyo and the JOC must immediately begin preparing the capital's application to be an international candidate.

It will be submitted to the International Olympic Committee in July, after which the IOC will pore over the applications for nearly a year and announce the official candidates in June 2008.

The winning city will be revealed in October 2009 at an IOC meeting in Copenhagen.

News photo
Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda (left) congratulates Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara after the JOC announced Wednesday that the capital, and not Fukuoka, will be the nation's candidate city to vie to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. SATOKO KAWASAKI PHOTO

The cost for Tokyo to campaign in the international selection round has been projected at 5.5 billion yen. The metro government will contribute 1.5 billion yen and the rest will be from the state as well as corporate donors and sponsors. Other cities expected to run for 2016 include Los Angeles; Chicago; Rio De Janeiro; Bangkok; Monterrey, Mexico; and Hamburg, Germany.

Tokyo is also at a disadvantage because it's in Asia.

JOC President Jacques Rogge said 2005 that any African nation with the key qualification would be a strong contender as the continent has never hosted a Summer Games.

Rumors are that a city in South America, which has also never had the event, would also have an advantage.

Asia already has a host city for the 2008 Summer Games, which will be held in Beijing. And if Tokyo gets the 2012 Games, it would be the second time it has had an Olympic Games, after hosting in 1964.

Tokyo has proposed that it shoulder 46.8 billion yen of the 795 billion yen for the Games. The money would be used to build new venues, including a 100,000-seat stadium for the track and field events in the Harumi waterfront district in Chuo Ward. Fukuoka had offered to shoulder 97 billion yen of its 775.4 billion yen estimate.

The course for road races would be around the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda Ward and soccer games would be held at several stadiums nationwide built for the 2002 World Cup.

The competition to be Japan's candidate was fierce.

"Please vote for the city, not for its size, but for its vision and proposal," Fukuoka Mayor Yamasaki said Wednesday during his final presentation to the JOC.

He added that Fukuoka had over 850,000 signatures from residents backing the city's bid to host the Olympic Games.

Tokyo countered with celebrity speakers, including Tokyo Yakult Swallows manager Atsuya Furuta and comedian Kinichi Hagimoto.

A report by sporting organizations released in July hinted that Tokyo was behind Fukuoka in the race, but Tokyo Gov. Ishihara's fierce campaigning paid out in the end.

Ishihara stayed in the background in the early stages, but made a vigorous push when he took JOC members on an inspection tour in late July.

The governor said Tokyo was a good choice because most of the venues would be within a 10-km radius and that the existing public transport network would be sufficient for the Games.

The governor criticized Fukuoka's plan, saying it was an "unrealistic dream." Fukuoka shot back, saying that directly denouncing a rival city was unfair and against the spirit of the Games.

People opposed to holding the event in Tokyo, especially on financial grounds, have not completely given up.



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The Japan Times

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