Election ousts Tokyo Olympic bid backer

August 31, 2009 8:20:22 AM PDT
One of the most vocal -- and controversial -- backers of Tokyo's bid for the 2016 Olympics has been ousted in an election. Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and his conservative party were shown the door after holding power for a half-century. The change in government leadership comes just one month before the International Olympic Committee will chose between Tokyo, Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid to host the 2016 Summer Games.

Prime Minister Aso, a former Olympic medalist in shooting, frequently talked-up Tokyo's bid.

However, his reputation for sprinkling remarks with comments that some viewed as racist or insensitive made him a controversial pitchman. Nonetheless, Aso was the public face of Tokyo's government support of the Games.

In a statement to ABC 7 this morning, Tokyo's Olympic bid leader said the upheaval in government should not impact a perceived strength of his city's bid.

"Together with Tokyo 2016's rock-solid financial guarantees, the support of Japan's political leadership, including the new ruling party, is clear proof that we offer the safest, securest, most risk-free and most dependable bid," Dr. Ichiro Kono said. "This is especially critical considering today's uncertain environment. We are confident that the IOC fully understands that our bid has the strong backing of Japan's political leadership."

The leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, which crushed Aso's party by a 3-to-1 margin, says his new government also wants to bring the Games to Japan.

"I want to see Tokyo get the 2016 Olympics, after London, and we shall make it a games of sports, peace and the environment," opposition leader Yukio Hatoyama said.


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