Despite the week immediately preceding the vote, held during the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Buenos Aires, being dominated by concerns over radioactive water leaks at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, Tokyo ultimately pulled a comprehensive victory by 60 votes to 36 over Istanbul in the second round of voting.
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Many more milestones have been met in the last 12 months, including the appointment of Yoshirō Mori as Organizing Committee President in January, with the 77-year-old, who served as Japanese Prime Minister between 2000 and 2001.
“Just one year ago, at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Tokyo was elected as the host city of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said.
I attended the session in my capacity as chairman of the Advisory Council of the Tokyo Olympic Bid Committee, and it is no exaggeration to say that when I heard IOC President [Jacques] Rogge announce that the host city for the Olympic Games was Tokyo, it was the most unforgettable moment of my life. The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games was officially launched, and I had the great honor and privilege of being appointed as President of the Organizing Committee.
Immediately after taking up my new post, I set about obtaining the full cooperation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the National Government, and private sector companies and embarked on laying the foundations for the successful preparations and delivery of the Games. We welcomed the IOC Coordination Commission to Tokyo for its inaugural inspection visit, and we were delighted to learn that the Commission evaluated our preparations thus far very highly.
Although the early stages of preparations for Tokyo Olympic over the last 12 months have been overshadowed by the more problematic later stages of work for Rio 2016, there have been challenges for the Japanese city as well.
Most of all, this has encompassed criticism of the plans to redevelop the National Stadium – in which events took place at Tokyo 1964, the only other Summer Olympics Games to take place on Japanese soil – which opponents claim is too big, too expensive and would ruin the city’s skyline. Changing plans for various other venues are also being considered, with canoe slalom, basketball, badminton, and sailing among those that could be affected.
A more personal criticism has involved claims that the Organizing Committee members are too old and too male-dominated, although steps have subsequently been made to increase the number of female representatives involved in the Games. On a more positive side, the Tokyo Olympic legacy has taken shape, with work done to raise the profile of the area devastated by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and to participate ideas from younger generations as part of a “Creating Tomorrow Together” project.
“In line with one of the basic premises of the Olympic Movement, ‘contributing to a better and more peaceful world through sports’, it is my earnest wish that people across the world will come to see the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games as a symbol of hope for the future of all humankind,” he said.
Our all Japan team – made up of representatives from a broad cross-section of Japanese society – is already working tirelessly to ensure that all visitors to Tokyo for the Games will experience the warm and sincere hospitality for which Japan is renowned. These latter aspects form part of the Olympic Games aims to inspire benefits beyond simply sporting ones, an area also reflected upon by Mori in his anniversary comments.
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