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Friday, June 6, 2008

Tokyo makes final round for Olympics

City advances in bid to host 2016 Games

Staff writer

Tokyo has been picked as one of the four candidate cities to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, receiving the top rating in the preliminary selection round, the International Olympic Committee announced Thursday.

News photo
Round one won: Tokyo officials hold a toast to celebrate the city's preliminary selection as a candidate for the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office at 1 a.m. Thursday. KYODO PHOTO

The three others making it to the final round are Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.

Even though the IOC made the announcement in Athens at around 1 a.m. Japan time, about 40 people, including Tokyo Vice Gov. Kenji Tanigawa and Diet members, were on hand at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building to hear and celebrate the news.

Three other applicants — Prague, Baku and Doha — failed to get the IOC nod to move on to the final round.

"This was expected," Gov. Shintaro Ishihara told a news conference later in the day, stressing that Tokyo has only gotten to the starting line. "The important thing is to focus on what we do from this point forward. It involves a whole range of efforts."

Asked how he would describe where Tokyo would be if it were climbing a mountain, Ishihara said: "We've just gotten to the base. It's like trying to reach the clouds, but if we put all our efforts together, I think we can make it."

While Tokyo finished at the top of the ratings in the preliminary phase, followed by Madrid and Chicago, these rankings won't be crucial in the final selection. The final bid plans have to be submitted by February. The IOC will name the winning city at a general assembly meeting in Copenhagen on Oct. 2, 2009.

In selecting the candidates, the IOC evaluated 25 items divided into 11 categories, including general infrastructure, safety and security, environmental conditions and impact.

Tokyo, which is proposing to hold the "world's most compact Olympics," in which most of the stadiums would be located within an 8-km radius, received high ratings in most of the categories, especially accommodations, environment and security.

Masahiro Nakajima, senior director in charge of planning and coordination at the Olympic bid promotion office, said Tokyo has about 75,000 accommodation units within a radius of 10 km of the proposed site of the main stadium. The IOC's standard is 40,000.

Although Tokyo got the best rating in the preliminary round, a poll by the IOC to gauge domestic public opinion found only 59 percent support in Japan's capital. Madrid received a support rate of 90 percent, Rio's was 77 percent and Chicago's 74 percent.

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The Japan Times

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