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Tokyo Relishes Successful Olympics Bid

  • RFE/RL

IOC President Jacques Rogge shows the card reading "Tokyo" as he announces the winner of the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

IOC President Jacques Rogge shows the card reading "Tokyo" as he announces the winner of the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Residents of Tokyo are celebrating as a result of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to select their city to host the 2020 summer games.

"I have tasted the bitterness of defeat from the previous time Tokyo was not chosen and I would very much like everybody to give a round of applause to Madrid and Istanbul who fought hard as well," the Vice Governor of Tokyo, Toshiyuki Akiyama, told reporters in the Japanese capital on September 8. " Thank you everyone. Let's make the 2020 Olympics a success."

Tokyo beat Istanbul in the deciding vote at an IOC meeting in Buenos Aires on September 7.

The IOC said Tokyo won in a landslide, receiving 60 votes against 36 for Istanbul.

Tokyo was selected despite ongoing concerns about radioactive leaks from the Fukushima nuclear-power plant, which suffered serious damage in a 2011 earthquake.

After the decision was announced, IOC President Jacques Rogge said the games would be in a "safe pair of hands" under the management of Japan, which has already set aside billions of dollars to organize the quadrennial sporting extravaganza.

Istanbul had advanced to the final round after beating out Madrid.

Istanbul's defeat marks the fifth time that the city has lost a bid to host the Olympics.

Some analysts suggested that the violent clashes between protesters and security forces in Turkey in June may have damaged Istanbul's chances. Threats posed by the war in neighboring Syria may also have raised concerns among IOC members.

It will be the second time that the Japanese capital will host the games. Tokyo first hosted the event in 1964. The Japanese cities of Sapporo and Nagano have hosted Winter Olympics.

The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro will be the host of the 2016 Olympics. Tokyo lost to Rio in the competition for those Games.

During their winning campaign, Japanese officials emphasized efforts to halt the leaks at the Fukushima reactor. The plant’s operator has said hundreds of tons of radioactive water are pouring into the Pacific Ocean each day.

Speaking in Buenos Aires, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the crippled plant was "under control." He offered assurances that the leaks would not affect Tokyo, located about 230 kilometers from the plant.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also traveled to Buenos Aires to present Istanbul's case for hosting the games.

Erdogan pointed out that Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country that links Europe and Asia. He said the Olympics, if held in Turkey, could bring "a meaningful and strong message" of peace to the Middle East.

After Tokyo was selected, Erdogan expressed disappointment, saying, according to Turkish news reports that hosting the games "wasn't our fate.”

In related news, the IOC announced that wrestling would be among the sports at the 2020 games after being removed from the Olympics last February.

Wrestling won back its spot after beating bids for inclusion from squash and baseball/softball in an IOC vote on September 8.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, AP, and AFP