Tokyo has been selected as host for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Buenos Aires. The Japanese city beat both Istanbul and Madrid to the title and has promised to build 10 new sports venues before the Games. It will be the second time that the Tokyo will host the Games – also held there in 1964 – making it the first Asian city to host the Olympics twice.
With the global economic crisis still raging, Tokyo was considered to be the ‘safe’ option. Japan is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and unlike many European countries, has the money and infrastructure to host such a large event. However, there is still some worry regarding the Fukushima nuclear plant, 150 miles outside of Tokyo. The plant has been leaking following the huge earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and there are fears about radiation and health issues in the area. As a result of this, the Japanese Prime Minister has tried to dispel worry about Fukushima, stating that Tokyo is still very safe and there would be no danger of radiation in the city. Since their successful bid was announced, London mayor Boris Johnson has congratulated Tokyo and reminded Japan, and indeed the world, of the spectacle that was London 2012.
Competing with Tokyo for the title was Istanbul, the biggest city in Turkey. It was their fifth bid to host the Games and many commentators were sure that they would win on this occasion; however political unrest in the country and the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Syria meant that they missed out yet again. Regardless of this, delegates maintain that holding the Games in Turkey would have provided diversity, particularly as the Olympics and Paralympics have never been held in a predominately Muslim country before.
Madrid, eliminated in the first ballot, was clearly disappointed with the result, although it is thought that some Spanish citizens will be relieved about the unsuccessful bid. Spain is still in the middle of a national crisis, facing huge economic and social problems. Around 50% of young Spanish people are unemployed and there are regular demonstrations around the country asking the government to do more for its jobless generation. While Madrid already has plenty of sporting facilities that could have been used in 2020, millions would need to be invested in the city’s infrastructure which would only fuel anger regarding the economic problems in Spain.
Although fears do remain regarding leaks from the Fukushima plant, it is generally believed that Tokyo was the right choice. Although it is not considered to be as diverse as some would have hoped, it is a financially sensible decision and will likely offer those who travel there in 2020 a fantastic experience as one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.