Tokyo has been chosen to host the 2020 summer Olympic Games by the event’s organising committee, beating out Istanbul and Madrid in the final vote tally.
The Japanese capital saw off strong competition from Madrid and Istanbul on a night of high drama at the International Olympic Committee vote in Buenos Aires.
Madrid was eliminated in round one after initially finishing level on votes with Istanbul. A vote-off between the two cities saw the Turkish bid go through and the Spanish crash out. But the night predictably belonged to Tokyo.
Japan’s strong track record of successfully hosting major sporting occasions – one summer Games, two Winter games and a football World Cup in 2002 – undoubtedly helped push votes their way.
The IOC’s Evaluation Commission visited each city in March of this year and left Japan hugely satisfied with what it had seen.
Anti-government riots and protests across Turkey this year did not help Istanbul’s bid, while economic uncertainty hung over Madrid’s efforts from the outset.
Tokyo also had the emotional pull of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, showing that triumph can emerge from tragedy.
Their bid team were frequently asked questions about the Fukushima nuclear reactor and recent concerns about contaminated water leaking from it, but they dealt with them. The reactor is 155 miles away from the host city and their prime minister was on hand in Argentina to reassure the IOC in person.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a charismatic speech to the International Olympic Committee.
The statesman’s slick narrative was aimed at allaying IOC concerns over the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, and would appear to have been pitched perfectly as the Japanese won convincingly by 60 votes to Istanbul’s 36.
Tokyo 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.
“I would like to thank everyone in the Olympic movement and we will host a wonderful Olympic Games,” a clearly delighted Abe said.
Bid leader Takeda added: “It is a great honour that Tokyo has been chosen.
“The first thing I will do when I return is to thank all of Japan,” he said.
For Istanbul it was a fifth unsuccessful bid to host a summer Olympics.
“I think it is an election between a traditional candidature and new grounds, and today it was the traditional candidature that won,” IOC vice-president and presidential candidate Thomas Bach said.