Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tokyo's Olympic Bid

On Sept. 20, Tokyo’s governor Shintaro Ishihara announced plans for Tokyo to bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. Other contenders include Fukuoka, Sapporo, New Delhi and Bangkok, but Tokyo's excellent infrastructure and international standing makes it the leading candidate from Asia.

The 1964 Olympics in Tokyo were a symbolic turning point for Japan. The games transformed a large part of central Tokyo (for better and worse) and provided the impetus to build the “bullet” train, showing the world that Japan had emerged from its painful post-war reconstruction. Ishihara hopes that a 2016 bid could become a spur for redevelopment of the city, particularly the National Stadium, now 50 years old, and the much-beloved Jingu Gaien. Ishihara has hinted that Kenzo Tange's masterpiece Yoyogi Gymnasium will also be subject to renewal. However, Tokyo plans to stage some of the events in neighboring prefectures, thus lessening the need to build new facilities.

Ishihara appointed Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, young Internet millionaire and baseball team owner, as an advisor for Tokyo's bid. Two former gold medalists were also appointed. This is good, but why did he also select media 'personalities' Elizabeth Kiritani and Terry Ito, and reject the Keidanren as 'old fogies'?

Residents are not too impressed with the announcement. Cynicism runs high that the whole thing will turn into another pork-barrel project for the big companies, with little benefit to the average Tokyoite. Many people think improving the city's environment and enchancing security are more important. As New York's failed 2008 bid showed, factionalism and lack of enthusiasm may prove to be a fatal drag. In any case, because the 2008 Olympics is in Asia (Beijing), followed by Europe (London 2012), Tokyo's turn will probably come in 2020.

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東京 五輪 オリンピック 2016年 


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