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Tokyo Olympics sporting tonic to spur recovery, economic growth
Publication Date : 11-09-2013
We are delighted that the Olympic flame will be lit again in Tokyo.
Tokyo has been chosen to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympics after comfortably defeating Istanbul in the decisive vote at the International Olympic Committee’s general meeting in Buenos Aires.
Fifty-six years after it hosted the Olympics in 1964, Tokyo will be home to the sports extravaganza for a second time. Together with the Winter Games in Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998, the 2020 Games will be the fourth time Japan has hosted the Olympics.
Athletes from around the world will converge on Tokyo. The news that Tokyo has been selected to host the Games has probably given hope to many Japanese people. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he wants the Games to be “a spark to end deflation.”
All-out efforts got job done
Seven years remain before the Tokyo Olympics begin. The nation must make unbridled efforts to ensure the international sports event is a success.
Tokyo was said to be locked in a tight struggle with Istanbul and Madrid in the bidding race, but the final result was a solid victory by Tokyo.
Final presentations by Paralympic athlete Mami Sato and other speakers at the IOC general meeting were all excellent and brimming with enthusiasm.
Princess Hisako of Takamado expressed gratitude for the international support given after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster in 2011. Her remarks apparently struck a chord with IOC members who cast votes.
One factor behind Tokyo’s victory was the all-out campaigning made by the wide spectrum of sectors behind the bid. The political and business worlds offered their full support. The public support rate for hosting the Games was significantly higher than it was during the unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Olympics.
Ardent lobbying of IOC members by the Tokyo bidding committee, which consisted of Olympic medalists and others, also achieved the desired result.
Tokyo’s blueprint and vision for the Games were rated highly from the very beginning. The main event venues will be within an eight-kilometre radius of the Olympic Village to minimise travel times for athletes as much as possible. The plans give utmost consideration to the athletes.
In light of its high public safety, well-prepared transport networks and accommodation facilities, and stable financial backing including funds of 400 billion yen (US$4 billion), some IOC members likely voted for Tokyo because they recognised the capital’s excellent ability to host such a major event. Tokyo fared well in these aspects, compared with the two other candidate cities, which are fraught with such problems as political instability and a fiscal crisis.
A primary concern that threatened to derail Tokyo’s bid—and an issue widely reported overseas—was the leaks of contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
On Friday, South Korea announced it would ban imports of marine products from Fukushima and seven other prefectures. This step, devoid of any scientific backing, is seen by some as an attempt by Seoul to tarnish Tokyo’s image.
Toxic leak issue festering
In response to a question by an IOC member, Abe said: “The impact [of the leak] has been completely blocked within the port facilities of the nuclear plant...In numerical terms, the level [of contaminants] monitored in waters off Fukushima Prefecture is one-500th of the standards set under the World Health Organisation guidelines for drinking-water quality.”
By using hard facts that ruled out the possibility that contaminated water might have an adverse impact on the Olympics, Abe’s explanation helped dispel concerns held by some IOC members.
The government must steadily bring an end to these toxic water leaks.
The 1964 Tokyo Olympics showed the international community that Japan was back on its feet after the end of World War II. In step with the holding of the Games, the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train line went into operation between Tokyo and Osaka, and the Shuto Expressway network was built in the capital. Tokyo’s infrastructure was upgraded by leaps and bounds.
What legacy will the 2020 Olympics leave for future generations?
The expectations for the Games are massive. Abe even went as far as describing them as the “fourth arrow” of Abenomics, his economic policies comprising the “three arrows” of bold monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and a growth strategy.
The economic effects of the Games are estimated at 3 trillion yen, and 150,000 jobs will be created.
The Olympics will certainly generate a ripple effect that reaches various sectors, including the construction industry, which will build Games-related facilities, and tourism and real estate. The share prices of “Olympics-related” companies have shown signs of rising since the IOC’s decision.
We hope hosting the Games will reinvigorate not only Tokyo, but also areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nation as a whole.
It is also necessary to steadily promote environmentally conscious construction projects, including the use of renewable energy to power facilities for major events and large greenery projects in the Tokyo Bay area.
As Tokyo prepares to hold the Paralympics, it is important to promote efforts to make the city barrier-free and easier to get around for people with disabilities.
Strategic athlete development
Excellent performances by Japanese athletes will be crucial for making the Games sizzle. The leading athletes in seven years are more than likely now middle or high school students. An increasing number of children will undoubtedly put their heart into their favourite sports as they dream of participating in the Games in their home country.
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry and the Japanese Olympic Committee need to strategically development athletes, with the focus on today’s middle and high school students.
The programme at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will feature 28 sports, including wrestling, whose return as an Olympic sport was decided Sunday.
We can hardly wait for the Games to start seven years from now.