Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (third right) celebrates with Tokyo 2020 delegation members after the Japanese capital won the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games yesterday.
BUENOS AIRES: Tokyo was awarded the 2020 summer Games yesterday, beating Istanbul in a head-to-head vote after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had addressed the International Olympic Committee in person to allay fears over the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
The Japanese capital won the right to stage the sporting extravaganza for the second time, having hosted in 1964 when the Games first went to Asia, after two years of intense lobbying and tens of millions of dollars spent.
For Istanbul it was a fifth unsuccessful bid to host a summer Olympics.
Madrid, which had pitched a safe, affordable, “sensible” bid had been earlier eliminated first in a secret vote by International Olympic Committee members on a head to head with Istanbul after the two cities were tied in second place after the initial vote. Their attempt to host 2020 had been a third consecutive bid.
The next summer Olympics will be hosted by Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Crowds gathered in Tokyo broke into wild cheers, despite the result coming in the early hours of the morning nearly a dozen time zones away, television pictures showed.
Japan’s Prime Minister had earlier flown in to the Argentine capital from the G20 summit in St Petersburg, Russia, to reassure nervous members about the safety of the nuclear plant some 220km from the city and fears about the leaking of contaminated water.
He told delegates that the situation was “under control”, adding: “It has never done or will do any damage to Tokyo.”
Fukushima operator the Tokyo Electric Power Co also played down fears of a possible spread of radiation in a separate message.
Concerns over Fukushima — seriously damaged in the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people — had dogged the bid in the final days but Abe successfully allayed IOC members’ fears.
The final result was 60 votes for Tokyo against 36 for Istanbul, said the IOC.
Tokyo — third in the vote for the 2016 Games won by Rio de Janeiro — had been the frontrunners originally, as they promised a safe and financially secure Games in what they termed “uncertain times”. The decision means it will be the fourth time that Japan plays host to the Olympics, having also organised hosted winter Games in Nagano (1998) and Sapporo (1972). Agencies