IOC evaluation commission arrives in Tokyo
TOKYO (AP) - The International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission arrived in Tokyo on Friday a few days before a four-day inspection of the city's plans to host the 2020 Olympics.
IOC vice president Craig Reedie will lead the March 4-7 inspection.
Later this month, the evaluation commission will visit Madrid and Istanbul, the other cities bidding to host the games. The IOC will select the host city by secret ballot at is session in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7.
Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, is bidding for a second straight time after finishing third in the IOC vote for the 2016 Games, which went to Rio de Janeiro.
"For the next week, we will go all out to demonstrate our winning formula for hosting the games in 2020,'' Tokyo 2020 President Tsunekazu Takeda said.
Tokyo organizers want to highlight the city's safety and advanced infrastructure, while emphasizing that 28 out of the 33 planned competition venues will be within a five-mile radius of the Olympic Village, meaning less travel time for athletes.
Two major differences from Tokyo's failed bid to host the 2016 Games are a larger Olympic Village with more space for athletes to train and a more centralized main stadium.
The previous bid also was hurt by a demonstration against hosting the Olympics during the evaluation commission's visit, and organizers are hoping there will be no repeat this time.
Public support is much higher this time around thanks in part to Japan's strong showing at the London Olympics. The latest poll showed that 73 percent of those polled support the bid.
Still, some feel the money could be put to better use rebuilding in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country's northeastern coast.
Tokyo has been rated highly by the IOC for its technical bid, but faces the appeal of Istanbul and taking the game to a new city that straddles Europe and Asia.
While London spent nearly $16 billion in public funds on building venues for the Olympics, Tokyo has a $4.5 billion "reserve fund'' for infrastructure projects for the games. That compares with $19.2 billion for Istanbul and $1.9 billion for Madrid.
SI Now: Make or break year for Danica Patrick
SI Now: Russell Simmons on the benefits of meditation for athletes