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Olympics: Japan Inc. ready to back Tokyo Games


Japan's corporate giants are ready to chip in for another Summer Olympics in Tokyo in hopes the Games will provide the same economic boost as the 1964 edition, Toyota's chairman said Tuesday.

Despite years of deflation that has forced big Japanese companies to reduce sports sponsorships including the ending of Panasonic's deal with golf star Ryo Ishikawa, Fujio Cho said Japan Inc. would bring plenty to the table.

"If Tokyo gets the 2020 Olympics, I believe businesses will become sponsors and support them," the Toyota chairman said after meeting a team from the International Olympic Committee who are evaluating Tokyo's bid.

"The Japanese economy soared very quickly after 1964," Cho, 76, told reporters.

"I don't think it will do quite the same again but I have no doubt it will provide a boost," said Cho, citing the spin-off demand for new products and the fillip to tourism.

He added that many companies in Japan have a record of involvement in sport, including Toyota which has connections with motorsport, rugby, basketball, softball, long-distance running and football.

"Many companies are top sponsors of the IOC and partners of the JOC (Japanese Olympic Committee)."

The Toyota boss was among business leaders who briefed the 14-member inspection team on finance and marketing, two of the 14 themes the three candidate cities outlined in reports to the IOC last month.

After four days in Tokyo, the team will visit Madrid and Istanbul later this month before drawing up a technical report on the bids for the 101 IOC members who will vote to choose the 2020 host on September 7.

The Japanese government assured the IOC that it would cover any cost over-runs in organising the Olympics.

Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose reminded them that the city had a $4.3 billion reserve fund for construction of Olympic infrastructure, according to an official of the Tokyo bid committee.

The committee has estimated the 2020 Games' effect on the domestic economy as worth $38 billion with the creation of more than 150,000 jobs.

Financial health is also a strong point in Istanbul's bid as Turkey has enjoyed years of high economic growth. But Madrid is struggling as Spain battles a recession and high unemployment while slashing spending.

Officials said public support for Tokyo's bid had soared to 70 percent from 47 percent, citing IOC surveys.

Tepid public support has been the weak point in Tokyo's campaign, with an IOC survey in May last year showing Madrid and Istanbul with support of 78 and 73 percent, against 47 percent for the Japanese capital.

"I am very pleased to hear this figure," JOC president Tsunekazu Takeda told reporters. "We should not be content with 70 percent. We will make efforts to muster more support from as many people as possible."

Takeda said Japan's record haul of 38 medals at the London Games had helped boost public support.

"Half a million people gathered to welcome home our medallists when they paraded in the streets of Ginza," he said.