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Olympics: Tokyo bid prepared for every twist and turn - Interview

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Robert Baden-Powell founder of the Scout Movement is not a name normally associated with bids to host the greatest sporting event in the world the Olympic Games but its motto 'Be Prepared' is one the Tokyo bid have adopted thanks to their chief executive Masato Mizuno.

Mizuno, who in 2011 stepped down from his role as chief executive of the sportswear company of the same name his grandfather founded in 1906, told AFP in an exclusive interview in Paris his 10 years spent as a boy at various age levels of the Boy Scouts had taught him many things.

"As Chief Executive of the bid I have told every member of the Committee to 'Be Prepared' - it is very important that they take this on board," he said.

The sprightly 70-year-old, who was born in Osaka but moved to Tokyo 35 years ago, said the bid had taken on board the lessons of the failed candidacy for the 2016 edition.

"We kept the best and improved on the rest," he said.

Chief among the improvements he said was the proposed 80,000 seater new stadium set to be built on the site of the stadium that played host to the 1964 Olympics and will be designed by world famous architect Zaha Hadid, who was responsible for the swimming venue at the 2012 Olympics in London.

"It will have retractable seating and a retractable roof and will host the track and field events, the rugby and football finals," he said.

"It will be a legacy for the next 100 years.

"Come what may it will be built because we are hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup," added Mizuno, who also pinpointed the Olympic Village was planned to be built on 44 hectares and closer to the venues rather than the 33 proposed for the 2016 Games.

"It will be a compact Games, a downtown Games."

Mizuno, whose boundless enthusiasm and cheerful witty demeanour contrasts with the traditional Japanese image of restraint and formality said another significant difference to the 2016 campaign was popular support.

"For 2016 it was just 56%," he said bashfully.

"For this bid the International Olympic Committee (IOC) figures pointed to 70% in the Tokyo region and 68% taking the whole of the country into account.

"Our survey reveals that in fact it is 77% from a total of 96million people nationwide.

"When we held a welcome home parade for our 34 medallists from last year's Games half a million people turned out to cheer them."

Mizuno, who was keen to highlight Tokyo represented a pair of safe hands and financially was secure with a reserve fund of $4.5billion, said a win for Tokyo would also be a welcome boost nationwide after the catastrophic tsunami on March 11, 2011.

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake sent a huge wall of water into its northeastern coast, killing some 19,000 people and triggering fears over the safety of the nuclear plant at Fukushima.

"We along with athletes visited the area to put on sports clinics and we discovered how important a role sports can play in society and helping people," he said.

"Were we to win the right to host the Games it would give us an opportunity to say thank you and display our appreciation to the world for helping us through this period."

Mizuno, who said the regular registering of radiation levels indicates no danger at all, said he had no regrets at stepping down from his post as head of the family enterprise.

"We have only one life so this is a wonderful opportunity to bring the 2020 Games to Tokyo.

"This is my goal."

Tokyo is competing against Istanbul, who have mounted their strongest campaign after several previous failed bids, and Madrid, who came second last time to Rio de Janeiro.

They will learn their fate when IOC members vote in Buenos Aires on September 7.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/well-being/130511/olympics-tokyo-bid-prepared-every-twist-and-turn-interview