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IOC “Hugely Impressed” by Tokyo’s Olympic Bid

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Sport & Culture

IOC “Hugely Impressed” by Tokyo’s Olympic Bid

With support from government, business and the public, Tokyo’s Olympic bid is gaining momentum.

Given the spirit of the bid, it is fitting that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is in Tokyo just prior to the two year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011.

For the capital, which is in the race to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, the final lap is approaching. At present, Tokyo is leading a small field that includes Madrid and Istanbul.

As the IOC evaluates the country’s capability to stage the games for a second time – the first was in 1964 – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the visitors that Japan demonstrated just why it deserves to host the 2020 Olympics through its handling of the triple disaster of March 2011

"Japan has its narrative that inspires many. That's why we hope Tokyo will be chosen,” Abe said during a dinner hosted for the IOC. "It is about the disasters we endured, the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear failure. But it is also about the revitalization."

Abe told the IOC that Tokyo would host some football games in the disaster zone and the torch would pass through it.

He added that "the compassion, courage and calmness of those (disaster) victims pushed me to stand again. My hope was that by doing so I could tell the nation that anyone deserves a second chance. That's the powerful message that Tokyo 2020 can send to the whole world."

It has been a good few days for the bid, not only from the official side but also from business.

After meeting with IOC officials, Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho, who also heads the Japan Sports Association, told the IOC that there would be no shortage of corporate support for the Olympics in Tokyo.

"If Tokyo gets the 2020 Olympics, I believe businesses will become sponsors and support them," Cho said Tuesday.

In short, there is support for the bid from the political and business worlds. In some ways, that’s the easy part. Ultimately, public opinion is much harder to influence and much more important.

Fortunately, public support is rising too. This week, a poll conducted by the IOC found that 70 percent of the public in Tokyo and 67 percent of the public across the country as a whole are now in favor of the bid, up from 47 percent in a poll conducted by the IOC in 2011.

Bid president and IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda is a relieved man.

"I was very satisfied with what we did during the inspections this week,” Takeda told Kyodo News. “We want to build on this success for the next step."

There is still some way to go to match the level of professed support that rivals Madrid and Istanbul have. The IOC will visit both cities this month, after which the latest figures will be revealed.

IOC vice president Craig Reedie left with some encouraging words.

“We have been hugely impressed by the quality of the bid presentations made by the bid committee,” he told reporters Thursday in a press conference. "Across the board, they have just been excellent."

There is still work to be done, but as Japan showed two years ago it is more than capable.

The IOC will announce its decision in Buenos Aires on September 7.