Tokyo to host 2020 Olympics

People celebrate as Tokyo wins the host city of the 2020 Olympics

People celebrate as Tokyo wins the host city of the 2020 Olypics at the live-viewing event in Tokyo on 8 September 2013. Tokyo won the right to host the Olympic Games for the second time, overcoming fears about radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant to land the 2020 edition of the world's biggest sporting event. AFP/Getty Images/Yoshikazu Tsuno

By Shigemi Sato | AFP

TOKYO, Japan, 8 September 2013

Thousands of Japanese erupted in joy early Sunday as they learned Tokyo would host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Some had risen very early, while others had stayed up all night to hear the decision from Buenos Aires, which came at 5:20am local time.

Several channels had live coverage of the event, with public broadcaster NHK having begun its programming at 10:30pm on Saturday.

As Olympic chief Jacques Rogge read the IOC decision, cheers and shouts rang out. Groups of ecstatic Japanese hugged each other and punched the air.

TV hosts and their guests were temporarily speechless and several were in tears, with some making reference to people living in the area affected by the earthquake-tsunami and the nuclear emergency it caused in March 2011.

At the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where around 1,200 people had gathered to watch live-streaming of the announcement in Buenos Aires, people held V signs aloft and cheerleaders hugged each other. Some shouted “Banzai” (hurrah!).

At the MC’s prompting, the crowd in unison said “arigato” (thank you) to Buenos Aires.

At Komozawa Olympic Park in the south of Tokyo, which served as a venue for several sports at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, golden tinsel rained down at the moment of decision.

A boisterous crowd held signs and chanted “Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo, Tokyo,” as an interviewer fought to be heard above the din.

When he finally got his question out — “What do you think of the news?” — one man shouted: “It’s the best!” before being drowned out by chanting and cheering.

Three-time Olympic women’s 55kg wrestling champion Saori Yoshida, whose sport may be scrapped from the 2020 Games said she had been brought to tears by the news of Tokyo’s victory.

“I am really pleased that Japan pulled together,” she told reporters.

Tadashi Okamura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who was in the crowd said he had not stopped crying with joy.

“We wanted the Games so much,” he said.

In Bueno Aires, bid chief Tsunekazu Takeda said: “I have been waiting a long time for this feeling. The members of the IOC have seen that Tokyo is a safe pair of hands.”

But in Madrid, which was eliminated at the first stage of the vote, news of the city’s elimination was greeted with shock.

Red balloons that supporters had been clutching were let go and people began making their way home.

“I am very disappointed,” said Jorge Linhares, 41, a minister who had come to witness the decision. “Everyone was very hopeful and I am surprised,” he added. “I thought we would go to the second round and win.”

Alex Marinez, a 16-year-old school student, said Madrid should keep trying for another Games, even after three successive losses.

“I am very disappointed. Failing in the first round is the worst. But we have to carry on,” he said.

Tokyo’s victory was a huge disappointment to the hundreds of Turks who had gathered in front of the Hagia Sophia. Within minutes of the announcement, the podium and the forum were almost deserted.

But the city’s governor, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, was magnanimous.

“Today we showed that we were a serious candidate, so I do not believe that we have lost,” he said. “We are a people who love competition, we will continue to try.”

Istanbul bid volunteer Basak Demirci said Turkey would not be bowed by the loss.

“Turkey is the best Muslim country in the world and if we had won the Games, we could have set an example to the Muslim world,” she told AFP. “One day we will win.”

In the winning city, a slightly damp morning was breaking and some bars were still open, on a day that promised to be full of celebration.

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