TOKYO has been given the golden ticket to host the 2020 Olympic Games – beating Istanbul in the final showdown.
After a nail-biting wait for the results of the secret ballot the president of International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, unveiled the winner.
It will be the second time the Japanese capital has hosted the Games having previously done so in 1964.
The city’s bid had focussed on a high level of security and safety, following the problems in Sochi and Rio de Janeiro.
But Tokyo’s bid had been seen by many as being weakened by the radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Japan’s Prime Minister went to great lengths during the final stages of the secret voting to say the country’s nuclear contamination crisis was “under control” and should not affect Tokyo’s bid to host the Games.
Shinzo Abe joined Team Japan’s final presentation to the International Olympics Committee before yesterday’s vote in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Abe addressed concerns about the Fukishima nuclear plant, saying, “Let me assure you the situation is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.”
Meanwhile, Japan’s Olympic Committee president, Tsunekazu Takeda, had said: “Vote for Tokyo and you vote for guaranteed delivery.”
Hiroshi Hase, a former Olympic wrestler and member of the Japanese parliament, also gave a detailed presentation on the leak in a bid to alleviate fears over contamination.
“It is a fact,” he said. “There is a very limited area where contaminated water is leaking out in the port… But we will monitor it, remove it and contain it.
Istanbul’s bid had centred on becoming the first Turkish city to host the Games and the first in a majority Muslim country. It was the fifth time the city had bid for the Games in the past 20 years.
The Turkish delegation said having the Games in the city would send a “strong message of peace” at a “critical moment” in the region.
But the civil war in neighbouring Syria had been one of the greatest challenges for Istanbul’s bid.
Istanbul’s campaign had suffered a setback from political protests this summer – some at proposed Olympic venues – and a series of doping scandals among the country’s athletes. But the bid presentation highlighted the strength of the country’s economy, the ambition to inspire future athletes and the prospect that the Games would bring peace to the region. It also repeatedly referenced “zero tolerance to doping”.
Madrid, which was the third city in the final stage of the Games vote, was the first to be eliminated.
The Spanish capital initially tied with Istanbul in the voting by the IOC with Turkey’s biggest city – the biggest city in Europe – narrowly winning the tiebreak vote 49-45.
Representatives from the three cities bidding to host
the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics yesterday made their presentations and described why they should stage the Games.
Madrid had promoted its low-budget pitch would become a model for future games, saying if it won, 80 per cent of venues were already in place in a compact layout.