Tokyo formally announced its bid to host the 2020 Olympics as a symbol of Japan’s determination to recover from the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The announcement was made on Saturday, at a reception marking the 100th anniversary of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) and in the presence of International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and other world sports leaders.
JOC president Tsunekazu Takeda said that his executive committee had approved Tokyo’s bid at a special meeting earlier in the day after the capital failed to capture the 2016 Games.
“Japan must recover from the great earthquake disaster,” Takeda said. “We wish to make the 2020 Olympics a symbol of our recovery.”
Tokyo’s outspoken governor, Shintaro Ishihara, declared as he proposed a toast at the reception: “There is no point in fighting the battle that is the Olympic bidding if we don’t win it.
“Tokyo won’t mind fighting a bloody battle in building facilities. I want the JOC to win a bloody battle (in leading the bid) no matter what.”
Rogge called the news “excellent” as he spoke onstage at a plush hotel convention room in the capital.
“The IOC is really happy to receive this candidature and wish Tokyo a good luck,” he said.
Earlier in the day he had heaped praise on Japan’s track record in hosting major world sports events and said the country would rise again after the earthquake and tsunami that left about 22,000 people dead or missing.
It also triggered an ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the worst since Chernobyl 25 years ago.
“I appreciate again the great virtues of the Japanese people — their courage, their sense of duty, their sense of citizenship and moral fortitude,” Rogge said.
“With these virtues, Japan will overcome, as it has to do in the past, this terrible crisis.”
Rome and Madrid, who lost out for 2012 and 2016, have announced their candidacies for 2020, while Istanbul and Doha are also reportedly considering bids.
Candidates must submit their entry by September 1 and the winner will be chosen in Buenos Aires in September 2013.
Takeda, the JOC chief, said the 1964 Tokyo Games had shown the world “how Japan recovered after World War II” and the legacy had fuelled the country’s rapid industrial growth.
Ishihara, 78, a novelist-turned-politician, has repeatedly expressed his ambition to stage the 2020 Olympics despite the 2016 bid attracting only limited public support.
Tokyo lost to Rio de Janeiro in the race to host 2016, along with Madrid and Chicago, leaving him to deal with a storm of criticism.
When he was re-elected governor in April, Ishihara said the Olympics in nine years’ time would be a “big catalyst for reconstruction and revival” after March’s catastrophe.
Tokyo said it spent around 15 billion yen ($180 million) on the failed bid to stage a compact and “green” Olympics by reducing carbon emissions from Games-related projects and operations.
The city reserved 400 billion yen for construction of venues and infrastructure and the fund has been kept intact.