Tokyo makes ‘now or never’ warning

Tokyo makes ‘now or never’ warning

TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
Tokyo makes ‘now or never’ warning

Tsunekazu Takeda. AP photo

Tokyo has its best chance to host the Summer Olympics in 2020 and will face a long wait to bid for the Games again if it loses out, Japanese Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda said yesterday.

“If we ever miss this chance, we feel it will be quite difficult for Tokyo or Japan to invite the Olympics for a while,” Takeda, also president of Tokyo’s bid committee, told reporters after unveiling a new logo for its 2020 Olympic bid.

The International Olympic Committee last week said Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul had made the final shortlist of 2020 candidates, eliminating Doha and Baku.

Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Summer Games, lost out to Rio de Janeiro in the bid for the 2016 Summer Games.

Takeda said, judging from the rotation of venues among continents, “The United States, which is the biggest contributor to the Olympic movement, is fully expected to enter the (2024) race.” Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics and Salt Lake City the 2002 Winter Games.

South Africa will also bid to become the first African country to host the Olympics, he said, adding that Paris, which hosted the Summer Games in 1924, is raring to host another edition 100 years later in 2024.

“With these countries competing, I believe we will fight in a way quite different from this time,” Takeda said.

Tokyo’s outspoken governor Shintaro Ishihara, meanwhile, said the city’s “conceited” and “extravagant” citizens were to blame for the low level of public support for the 2020 bid which he is spearheading.

An International Olympic Committee technical report showed Tokyo’s bid garnered a public support rate of just 47 percent, against 73 for Istanbul and 78 for Madrid.

“Tokyo citizens are extravagant and used to taking everything for granted,” Ishihara said when asked why people lacked enthusiasm for the Games.

“They are full of conceit and now think just about themselves. They have become a species quite different from the rest of the Japanese,” he told the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.

Takeda, however, said he believed Japan had an underlying enthusiasm for the Olympics.

“Once the Olympics starts, many people in Japan watch television. Their viewing hours are unrivalled in the world,” he said.