There are just ten months remaining before the cities bidding for the 2020 Olympics learn which one has won.
Hopes are rising in Japan that Tokyo has what it takes to defeat Istanbul and Madrid when the members of the International Olympic committee (IOC) meets in Buenos Aires in September to cast their vote.
Tokyo has been working hard to try to bring the games to the city for the second time after hosting them in 1964.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
As it stands, the city is regarded as the favourite to win. UK bookmakers have Madrid at 4 to 1, Istanbul at 2 to 1 with Tokyo out in front as 8/11. Betting on the East Asian city to win will not bring a massive return.
Japan is taking nothing for granted as it failed to become the host for the 2016 games, but ten months out from the 2020 finish line, the signs are good.
Usually, the resignation of a city’s governor who has been energetically behind the process with just months remaining would be cause for concern for the bid team, but that may not be the case as far as Tokyo is concerned.
In October, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara stepped down from his post to form a new political party.
"We are confident that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will continue providing support for the bid and that Governor Ishihara's resignation will have no impact on our campaign," Tokyo 2020 bid president Tsunekazu Takeda said in a statement.
It could even be a boost. Ishihara is the man behind the recent deterioration in relations between China and Japan that has raised tensions in the entire region and beyond.
The governor’s plan to buy the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, administered by Japan but claimed by the Chinese, caused the national government in Japan to step in to stop them falling into the hands of the outspoken politician. It did not go down well with China. Not having the controversial Ishihara identified with the bid may just have bid organisers sleeping a little easier at night.
There was more good news. A recent poll shows that support in the city is growing rapidly for the bid. The IOC does consider by just how much the government, business and the people are behind a bid.
An IOC poll in May found just 47 percent of the city’s residents in support of the bid but a similar survey this month has recorded an increase to 67%.
And then the FutureBrand’s Country Brand Index 2012-2013 ranked Japan third out of 118 countries in terms of global ‘brand power’.
"We are delighted with the results of FutureBrand's latest Country Brand Index. This report reflects the world's positive perception of Japan, based on our innovative culture and rich history," said Tsunekazu Takeda, International Olympic Committee Member and President of the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee.