Special Report: Tokyo Raise the Bar in 2020 Bidding Stakes

March 7, 2013

By Keir Radnedge

Madrid and Istanbul should know that Tokyo has set the presentation bar high in terms of the quality of its bid to host the Olympic Games in 2020.

Sir Craig Reedie, chairman of the evaluation commission of the IOC, was guarded in the comments he made on summing up the four-day visit at its conclusion.

But he had no hesitation in acknowledging the high standard of the manner in which the Japanese had not only set out their proposals but also the full support from the highest levels of Japanese society and politics.

Dancing attendance on the commission had been a full range of society from Crown Prince Naruhito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Olympic hopefuls of the future.

Reedie opened his review by noting the importance of his panel’s bid analysis because the Olympic Games “are a multi-billion-dollar business” and acknowledged the Tokyo bid team’s “excellent and highly professional preparation.”

“We were hugely impressed,” he added, “by the quality of the bid presentations. They were excellent in every way, reflecting great credit on all the hard work.”

Those presentations, covering the 14 themes at the heart of Games organisation, had been led by “senior members of the Japanese government starting with the Prime Minister and First Secretary of the Treasury . . . and they have answered our questions very openly and well.”

But the Olympics are, to the world at large, all about sport and Reedie appeared particularly please by the commission’s interaction with a selection of Japan’s Olympians and Paralympians who had been on hand at every site visit.

He said: “It has been very interesting to speak to the Olympians and Paralympians so the whole [representative] spectrum has been there. They have been prepared to tell us their hopes and their dreams for their city and we rate that very highly.”

Reedie, who was a member of the London 2012 organising committee and is now an IOC vice-prsident, left no doubt about the challenge ahead if Tokyo should win the vote in Buenos Aires on September 7.

“Hosting the Olympic Games,” he said, “is the most challenging project any city or country can undertake, that’s why the IOC allows seven years of preparations.”

As Reedie said, he and his team did not possess a crystal ball and have to make their assessments in terms of what they see and are told, and “try to take as reasoned a view of the future as we can.”

Tokyo clearly presented the future as brightly as possible. The bid committee have to repeat that presentation trick to the full IOC in both July and then just before the vote in September.

Speculation had abounded about whether being the first on the commission’s whistle-stop tour was an advantage or disadvantage. That remains a subject for discussion.

What can be reported from the Olympic bid front line is that Tokyo left Madrid and Istanbul in no doubt about the manner in which they must rise to the occasions later this month.


Keir Radnedge has been covering football worldwide for more than 40 years, writing 33 books, from tournament guides to comprehensive encyclopedias, aimed at all ages.

His journalism career included The Daily Mail for 20 years as well as The Guardian and other national newspapers and magazines in the UK and around the world. He is a former editor, and remains a lead columnist, with World Soccer, generally recognised as the premier English language magazine on global football.

In addition to his writing, Keir has been a regular analyst for BBC radio and television, Sky Sports, Sky News, Aljazeera and CNN.

Keir Radnedge’s Twitter@KeirRadnedge

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