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Tokyo wins 2020 Olympics bid

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) applauding as International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge (second from left) shaking hands with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Bid Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda after the signing of the Host City Contract after Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tokyo's Governor Naoki Inose is at right. (AP Picture.)

Sat, September 07, 2013 - 9:03 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – The International Olympic Committee went for a familiar, trusted host, selecting Tokyo for the 2020 Games and signaling that playing it safe was preferable to more risky picks like Sochi and Rio.

With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reassuring IOC members on the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Tokyo defeated Istanbul 60-36 Saturday in the final round of secret voting. Madrid was eliminated earlier after an initial tie with Istanbul.

Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, billed itself as the “safe pair of hands” at a time of global political and economic turmoil – a message that clearly resonated with the IOC.

With Madrid’s bid dogged by questions over Spain's economic crisis and Istanbul handicapped by political unrest and the civil war in neighboring Syria, Tokyo offered the fewest risks.

“The certainty was a crucial factor – the certainty that they could deliver,” IOC vice president Craig Reedie of Britain said.

The choice of Tokyo bucked the IOC's recent trend of taking chances on host cities – Sochi, Russia, for the 2014 Winter Games, Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics and Pyeongchang, South Korea, for the 2018 Winter Games.

Preparations for Sochi have been overshadowed by cost overruns, a record $51 billion budget, security worries and an international outcry over Russia's anti-gay legislation. There are mounting concerns among the IOC over construction delays in Rio.

The IOC’s desire for a reliable, dependable host in 2020 was a crucial factor for Tokyo.

In the final presentation, Abe gave the IOC assurances that the Fukushima leak was not a threat to Tokyo and took personal responsibility for keeping the games safe.

“Let me assure you the situation is under control,” Abe said. “It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.” (AP)

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