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Olympics: Tokyo provides certainty in age of uncertainty - Takeda

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will be in a win-win situation were they to elect Tokyo as the host of the 2020 Summer Olympics, their bid president Tsunekazu Takeda told AFP.

The 65-year-old, who is in Moscow for the world athletics championships on his final sweep ahead of the vote in Buenos Aires on September 7, said that Tokyo provided certainty in what he termed "these uncertain times".

By that he highlighted how Tokyo could assure the security of athletes and visitors and also the financing of the Games.

Tokyo, who hosted the Games in 1964, are involved in a thrilling race with Istanbul, whose fifth bid is by far their strongest, and Madrid, who are bidding for the third successive time having finished third and second for the 2012 and 2016 Games respectively.

"In these uncertain times Tokyo will offer certainty," said Takeda.

"Tokyo 2020 will be a safe pair of hands and much more. Tokyo is the safest city in the world and provided financial stability.

"But we are not just about that because we also offer to host a huge party in the city centre and aside from that there is our innovative side which is one of creativity and excellent technology.

"We guarantee to deliver a great Games for new generations."

Takeda, who has bittersweet memories of Moscow as he would have competed in the showjumping at the 1980 Olympics but for Japan joining the boycott over the then Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, said their essential message remained the same to the IOC.

However, he admitted also that hosting the Games would provide a morale boost to Japan just two years after the massive quake and tsunami that killed nearly 19,000 people and badly damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Takeda, who is the great-grandson of Emperor Meiji who ruled Japan from 1867-1912, paid several visits to the devastated areas, taking sports stars with him in a bid to revive morale.

Sydney Olympics women's marathon champion Naoko Takahashi donated some of the shoes she collects and usually sends to poverty-stricken Kenyan children.

Instead, she gave them to the young people who lost everything in Tohoku (the region affected by the tsunami).

The Kenyan children, the 41-year-old said, far from being distraught at missing out on the shoes reciprocated by releasing a song on YouTube as a gesture to their contemporaries affected by the disaster.

Takeda said that Takahashi's gesture, along with other efforts by athletes, had had a highly positive impact.

"This was very effective, especially with the young people," he said.

"It was a very powerful image. When we arrived the young people had tears in their eyes, and when we left after they had played sport with the athletes they were smiling.....and sweating!"

Takeda, who was elected an IOC member last year prior to the London Olympics, also dismissed fears the radioactive groundwater that has leaked outside the nuclear plant of Fukushima, confirming long-held suspicions of ocean contamination from the shattered reactors, would pose problems for the bid.

"At the moment the Japanese Government are making great efforts to control the situation and consulting experts," he said.

"The plant is 250km away from Tokyo so there is no concerns over radiation."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130808/olympics-tokyo-provides-certainty-age-uncertainty-takeda