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Tokyo stresses more than management ability in Olympic bid

Publication Date : 10-01-2013


Smoother, safer, smaller--Tokyo hopes these qualities will distinguish it from Istanbul and Madrid in the race to host the 2020 Olympics, according to candidature files Tokyo's bid committee submitted Monday to the International Olympics Committee (IOC).

In its master plan, Tokyo emphasised its ability to host major events smoothly and safely. However, like successful host cities of the past, Tokyo may need to spice it up with a brand-new selling point if it hopes to edge out the competition.

The Japanese capital will now have its chance, as the IOC lifted its ban on conducting international promotional campaigns for the candidate cities after they submitted their master plans.

The winning city will be chosen at the IOC's general meeting September 7 in Buenos Aires.

The candidature files contain detailed documents explaining the candidates' plans to host the Olympics and Paralympics covering 14 issues, including basic philosophy, finance, events, venues and transportation. Copies of the plans are distributed to IOC members and serve as important material when the members vote on the venue at its general meeting.

Tokyo's bid file, which runs about 270 pages, was unveiled to the public at a press conference Tuesday.

In the file, the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee highlighted the capital's management ability, claiming Tokyo's advanced infrastructure, including a sophisticated public transportation network and a large number of accommodation facilities, would enable it to host a safe and stable Games.

The committee believes Tokyo's management ability is its biggest advantage, as it received top scores in the category in its bid to host the 2016 Olympics--won by Rio de Janeiro--and in the first round of the 2020 selection last year.

While Tokyo's stress on its management ability is not new, there are two fundamental reasons why the committee chose this strategy.

One is the success of the London Olympics last year. The playing out of the Games against a backdrop steeped in history caused a sensation not only in Britain but all over the world.

As it was the third time London hosted the Games, showcasing its ability to host major events, it became easier for Tokyo to advertise a high-quality Olympics free of surprises.

Another reason is that Tokyo's rivals have problems in management ability, with Madrid struggling financially, and Istanbul's weak urban infrastructure its Achilles' heel. Under these circumstances, the Tokyo bid committee apparently concluded Tokyo's stability would give it an edge.

Tokyo needs to spice it up

However, if Tokyo sticks to only stressing its ability to host a stable Games, IOC members may feel Tokyo's only outstanding quality as host is its capacity to carry out a risk-free event.

Cities that won bids in the past stressed not only their management ability but also emphasised attractive selling points, effectively spreading the message through international ad campaigns.

For example, in its successful bid to host the 2016 Games, Rio de Janeiro ramped up its campaign by claiming that holding the Olympics in South America for the first time would expand the horizons of the Olympic movement.

London created its own tailwind during the last stage of campaigning for the 2012 Games by promoting a project to provide greater opportunities for children in developing nations to enjoy sports.

In its 2016 Olympic bid, Tokyo failed to present appealing points other than its management ability. This, along with a low public support rate, hindered Tokyo's prospects of winning over IOC members.

According to the Tokyo bid committee, a 2020 Olympics staged in the capital would be a "compact Games," with most event venues within an eight-kilometre radius of the Olympic village--a solid advantage for Tokyo.

However, the bid committee is bound to ask the inevitable question: "Why now?" Tokyo must hold thorough discussions to come up with an answer and show what impact a Games held in Tokyo would have on society in general.

Needless to say, efforts to gain broader public support are also necessary if Tokyo hopes to come out on top.

Tokyo also needs to dispel anxieties related to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, such as a stable electricity supply. This point was raised by the IOC in the first selection round.

Tokyo has made tremendous strides in its bid to host the world's biggest sporting event. After reviewing its weaknesses, it must quicken its efforts and devise a strategy to pull ahead of Istanbul and Madrid.


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