IOC team visits Japan

April 17, 2009 8:45:19 AM PDT
It's Tokyo's time to shine.The International Olympic Committee's evaluation team is wrapping up its first full day in that Japanese city. It's one of three competing against Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics.

It has to feel a bit like seeing the girl you desperately wanted to date in high school out on a date with another guy. Chicago 2016 had a chance to impress the IOC earlier this month. Now the IOC team is sizing-up another suitor.

In Tokyo Thursday morning, there was warm applause and a standing ovation members of the International Olympic Committee's inspection team were welcomed.

"It is my delight to invite young Olympians from around the world to Tokyo," said Taro Aso, Japanese prime minister.

Japan's prime minister - a former Olympic shooter - quickly pulled the trigger on one of Tokyo's perceived advantages. The government has already put $4-billion in the bank to pay for the Games. Among the big tickets items: An entirely new island that would be home to a 100-thousand seat Olympic Stadium.

"The main stadium will be floating essentially above the sea surrounded by greenery," said Tadao Ando, Tokyo Stadium architect.

Like Chicago, Tokyo promises a compact Games in the heart of the city. Tokyo hosted the Olympics in 1964. Today, however, polls indicate only lukewarm public support.

"On our drive in from Narita, which the airport is more than an hour away, you wouldn't have known Tokyo is bidding for the Olympics. The buzz isn't as heightened here as it was in Chicago," said Duncan MacKay, Insidethegames.com.

The US Olympic Committee's acting CEO is in Chicago today to promote voting for the Olympic Hall of Fame. She revealed that during the IOC's visit to Chicago last week there were indeed a lot of questions about funding for a Chicago Games.

"That's the way we answered it: We're the United States. We don't have government guarantees and the committee knew that going in," said Stephanie Streeter, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO.

On Friday, the IOC team in Tokyo will hit the road and tour proposed venues. ABC7 asked if Chicago's bid team is trying to gleam anything from the Tokyo tour?

"We'll look at it when the week's over but we're not watching it hour by hour," said Patrick Ryan, Chicago 2016 chairman.

Tokyo's governor got twisted-up answering the first question at an Olympic press conference Thursday. He seemed to stand by previous controversial comments in which he downplayed alleged atrocities by the Japanese during their occupation of Korea decades ago.


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