Tokyo celebrates an emotional Olympics victory

Olympic Games will be chance to show progress after devastating 2011 disasters, says PM Abe

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 September, 2013, 5:49am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 September, 2013, 7:17am

Tokyo celebrated yesterday after winning the right to host the Olympic Games for the second time, overcoming fears about radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant to land the 2020 edition of the world's biggest sporting event.

Thousands of Japanese who stayed up all night to witness the Olympic vote erupted in joy on news that Tokyo will host the 2020 Games, as athletes hailed the "dream" result and TV hosts broke down in tears.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the Games would be an opportunity to showcase Japan's resurgence after the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but stressed the city must work to win the world's trust.

"The real Games have only just started for Tokyo," Abe said.

Members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Buenos Aires chose the Japanese capital, which previously hosted the Games in 1964, over Istanbul and Madrid.

Tokyo won the right to organise the world's biggest sporting extravanganza despite concerns over the leaking Fukushima nuclear plant 230 kilometres away. The plant's operator has said hundreds of tonnes of radioactive water are pouring into the Pacific Ocean each day.

Abe told delegates that the situation was "under control", adding: "It has never done or will do any damage to Tokyo."

Japan's government said last week it would spend almost US$500 million to try to fix the water crisis.

Hundreds of Japanese athletes and officials gathered downtown for the early morning announcement shouted "Banzai!", jumping up and down and hugging in unusually demonstrative reactions.

The IOC vindicated the Japanese capital for a strategy that saw them highlight their solid finances and strong track record of delivering on promises.

The next summer Olympics will be hosted by Rio in 2016. Preparations for those Games have been plagued by problems, and a decision for Tokyo 2020 is a return to safer waters for the Olympic movement.

"During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics I am determined to show to the world … [a] Japan that accomplishes a remarkable reconstruction from disaster and stands once again at the forefront of the world," Abe said.

"Tokyo is going to be the centre of the world. We really need to respond to expectations … That is our challenge going forward."

Agence France-Presse, Reuters