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Tokyo ready to bid for 2020 Olympics

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s Olympic chief declared Friday that Tokyo is ready to bid for the 2020 Summer Games to help boost Japan’s recovery from March’s earthquake and tsunami disaster.

“We must bring the Olympics back to Japan. Unfortunately, we missed out on 2016 but since then, we have been doing everything we can to prepare for 2020,” Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) president Tsunekazu Takeda said.

In 2009, Tokyo lost to Rio de Janeiro in the race to host the 2016 Summer Games along with Madrid and Chicago.

“I cannot formally announce the bid at this moment,” Takeda said at an event marking the JOC’s 100th anniversary, according to Kyodo news agency.

“But we believe the Olympics will aid in the recovery and reconstruction of this country, and we want to help create a new Japan for the future, for our children.”

Tokyo’s governor Shintaro Ishihara is due to make a formal announcement on the bid Saturday at a midday reception hosted by the JOC and attended by International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge, informed sources said.

The JOC was scheduled to hold a special executive board meeting early Saturday at which Tokyo’s bid for its second Summer Games — it hosted the 1964 edition — was expected to be approved, they said.

Ishihara has repeatedly expressed his ambition to stage the 2020 games, despite his 2016 bid attracting limited public support.

Tokyo said it spent around 15 billion yen ($180 million) on the failed bid to stage a compact and “green” Olympics by reducing carbon emissions from Games-related projects and operations.

The city reserved 400 billion yen for construction of venues and infrastructure and the fund has been kept intact for a possible future bid.

Ishihara’s critics have taken him to task over the failed bid, but he has never given up his Olympic dream.

When he was re-elected as governor in April, he said the Olympics would be a “big catalyst as reconstruction and revival” after the March 11 disasters left some 21,000 people dead or missing on the country’s northeast coast and sparked a crisis at a nuclear power plant.

Rome and Madrid, which also failed to win the 2012 Games, have announced their candidacies for the 2020 edition, while Istanbul and Doha are also reportedly considering bids.

Candidates must submit their bids by September 1 and the winner will be chosen in Buenos Aires in September 2013.

Tokyo is Japan’s only contender after Hiroshima, hit by an atomic bomb at the end of World War II, abandoned its own bid in May due to lack of public support and a shortage of funds.


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