Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Tokyo will host 2020 Olympic Games

Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the International Olympic Committee has announced

Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games following a vote in Buenos Aires, the International Olympic Committee has announced.

The Japanese city beat rival bids from the Spanish capital Madrid, which was eliminated first, and Istanbul in Turkey.

The decision was made by the 100-plus committee members meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, billed itself as the safe and reliable choice at a time of global political and economic uncertainty.

"Tokyo can be trusted to be the safe pair of hands and much more," bid leader and IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda said in the final presentation. "Our case today is simple. Vote for Tokyo and you vote for guaranteed delivery. ... Tokyo is the right partner at the right time."

Tokyo had been on the defensive in the final days of the campaign because of mounting concerns over the leak of radioactive water from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

In the final presentation before the vote, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe gave the IOC assurances that the Fukushima leak was not a threat to Tokyo and took personal responsibility for keeping the Games safe. "Let me assure you the situation is under control," Mr Abe said. "It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo."

Mr Abe gave further assurances when pressed on the issue by Norwegian IOC member Gerhard Heiberg. "It poses no problem whatsoever," Mr Abe said in Japanese, adding that the contamination was limited to a small area and had been "completely blocked". "There are no health-related problems until now, nor will there be in the future," he said. "I make the statement to you in the most emphatic and unequivocal way."

Tokyo Electric Power, Fukushima's operator, has acknowledged that tons of radioactive water have been seeping into the Pacific from the plant for more than two years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami led to meltdowns at three of its reactors. Recent leaks from tanks storing radioactive water used to cool the reactors have added to fears that the amount of contaminated water is getting out of hand.

Even though it was only 5am in Tokyo, a gathering of 1,200 dignitaries and Olympic athletes crammed into a convention hall to celebrate the news. Cheers of "Banzai" filled the hall when the announcement was made that Tokyo had won.

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