Saturday, October 03, 2009

Rio wins bid for 2016 Olympics; Tokyo eliminated in 2nd round

Tokyo’s hopes of hosting the 2016 Olympics were shattered Friday as the Japanese capital was eliminated in the second round of voting by the International Olympic Committee.

Rio de Janeiro was named the winner of rights to stage the 2016 Games, beating Madrid in the final round of voting to become the first South American Olympic host. Rio had 66 votes to Madrid’s 32.

Chicago was eliminated in the first round of voting before Tokyo’s exit left the race down to the Rio and Madrid. Tokyo had 22 votes in the first round and 20 in the second.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama released a statement Saturday congratulating the Brazilian people on Rio de Janeiro’s win in a bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

‘‘I want to offer my heartfelt appreciation for the citizens of Tokyo and athletes,’’ said Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara. ‘‘Let’s use this precious experience, while tackling environmental issues and contribute to the development of world cities. I pray for the success of the Games in Rio de Janeiro.’’

Under host city voting procedures, the city with the fewest number of votes in each successive round of balloting is eliminated until one city has reached a majority of the valid votes cast.

It was Japan’s third consecutive failed bid to win the rights to hold the Summer Games. Nagoya lost out to Seoul for the 1988 Olympics, while Osaka was eliminated in the first round of voting for the 2008 Games, which went to Beijing.

‘‘It’s a pity. We united as a team and did everything we could,’’ said Japanese Olympic Committee chief Tsunekazu Takeda.
‘‘There is a winner and a loser and this time we couldn’t win but we have also gained something. We have to figure out how to go for the 2020 Olympics.’’

About 500 people who gathered at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building could not help but sigh early Saturday when Tokyo was eliminated from consideration for the 2016 Olympics in the second round of voting.

When International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge announced the elimination of Tokyo in a live image displayed on a large screen, those gathered in a hall on the fifth floor of the building let out sighs of disappointment.

Vice Tokyo Gov Hiroshi Sato, Japanese Olympic Committee members and athletes, including Yuko Arimori, a marathon runner who won the silver medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, gathered there to support Tokyo’s bid for the host city of the 2016 Olympics and watch the results of the IOC voting.

Hiromi Miyake, a Japanese female weightlifter, said, ‘‘I was excited because I thought Tokyo would be selected as Chicago was eliminated in the first round of voting.’’

In an event held at Tokyo Tower to support the Japanese capital’s bid, the venue was covered by a festive mood when Tokyo moved to the second round of voting, but hopes were dashed within a few minutes as Tokyo was eliminated.

‘‘It’s very frustrating,’’ said hurdler Dai Tamesue. Fashion designer and event producer Kansai Yamamoto, who represented supporters for Tokyo’s bid, said, ‘‘It’s like going from the top to the bottom on a roller coaster.’’

But he added, ‘‘We have a chance again in four years.

Tokyo was left to rue what might have been after efforts failed to convince the IOC that it could stage ‘‘the most compact and efficient Olympic Games ever.’’

JOC Vice President Tomiaki Fukuda said he was surprised at Madrid staying alive.

‘‘I thought Madrid would be eliminated. There is a possibility that it won votes out of sympathy for (former IOC president Juan Antonio) Samaranch. It’s a real shame. I want Tokyo to bid for the Olympics one more time.’’

Samaranch had appealed for the Spanish capital, reminding IOC members that, at age 89, ‘‘I am very near the end of my time.’’

During Tokyo’s final presentation ahead of the vote Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama urged the IOC to pick Tokyo during a heartfelt speech, saying it was ‘’ well positioned to serve as a future model of public safety and environmental stability.’’

The host of Asia’s first Olympics in 1964, Tokyo won praise from the IOC in an evaluation report last month for its vision and concept to stage a compact Olympic Games and a solid financial plan.

It had planned to use several renovated venues from the 1964 Games while its Olympic Stadium would have been be the first in the world to be powered by solar energy.

Amid the global economic downturn, Tokyo had also secured a special 400 billion yen budget for the Games.

During the IOC bid evaluation committee’s visit to Tokyo in the spring, committee chairwoman Nawal El Moutawakel said the inspectors were most impressed by the concept of hosting an Olympics, in which 97 percent of the venues would be located within 8 kilometers of the Olympic Stadium.

Initial concerns, though, had been raised regarding Tokyo’s lack of public support, while low marks in the evaluation report were also given for existing venues, operations and land area for the athletes’ village.

Although there is no official IOC continental rotation policy, Tokyo faced another obstacle in trying to bring the games to Asia so soon after Beijing staged last year’s Games.