Games win would aid healing process - Tokyo chief

The International Olympic Committee could give a huge boost to the healing process in Japan after the trauma of last year's tsunami -- if they award Tokyo the 2020 Games, bid leader Tsunekazu Takeda said on Saturday.

Takeda was leading the presentation to the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), as Tokyo and their four rivals for the hosting of the Games vye to make the short-list which is decided in Quebec, Canada, next month.

The vote for the winning bidder itself will be held in Buenos Aires next year.

Tokyo -- who previously hosted the Games in 1964 and lost out to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 edition -- are competing against dark horses Istanbul, Baku, Madrid and Doha.

Takeda, a former Olympic show jumper, said that he and his team were desperate to bring the Games back to Tokyo and help in the recovery of the country's morale following the catastrophic tsunami.

Tokyo are seen as the early favourites, not only because technically they are seen as an outstanding bid, but also because they are the choice of the sentimental voter.

"The many comments we received during our discussions with Olympic Family members provided us with invaluable feedback about their expectations for future Games," said Takeda, who is also president of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC).

"We believe that Tokyo 2020 offers a responsible and sustainable plan for compact, centralised Games with a showcase stadium to be built on the site of the historic 1964 Olympic Stadium.

"We are highly motivated to leverage the power of sport, with the firm commitment of the Tokyo and national governments, to help heal, unite and inspire Japan at a time of national rebuilding."

Istanbul have been rebuffed five times previously but are seen as genuine contenders this time round, not only because the city is seen as a bridge between Asia and Europe but also thanks to its vibrant economy and huge young population.

Hasan Arat, the bid's vice president, said that a Games in Istanbul would bring to a climax a period of unifying several different strands of society.

"Our commitment to you (the NOCs) goes beyond a robust Games plan," said the 52-year-old former professional basketball player.

"We promise a spectacular Games, taking the Olympic Movement to new shores.

"This is a period of convergence for Istanbul; convergence of our economy with our vision for sport; convergence of our government support with our youthful population; convergence of our commitment to you with our ability to meet every promise."

Doha's bid team were led by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the heir to the throne.

He said he hoped they had laid to rest any debate over it being too hot for the athletes to compete -- a criticism of the 2022 World Cup being awarded to Qatar, with the players due to perform in piping hot temperatures in July.

"Athletes are at the heart of this vision. They must have the right conditions to perform," he said.

"That is why the QOC has been engaging with the International Federations on the timing of a possible Doha 2020 Games.

"This has resulted in our proposal to host the Olympic Games from the 2nd to the 18th of October and the Paralympic Games from the 4th to the 15th of November.

"We have chosen those dates to deal directly with the issue of temperature. To ensure excellent conditions for athletes, spectators, and media, similar to those of previous Olympic Host cities.

"We are grateful to the Federations for the support they have given to these proposals. You could say, we have finally taken the heat out of Doha's so called ‘hot issue'."


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