Quake fears are not a factor, says Tokyo 2020 Olympics bid chief

Wednesday, 9 January 2013 00:42 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Concerns that a major earthquake could strike during the 2020 Olympics will not affect Tokyo’s chances of hosting the Games, the city’s bid leader said on Tuesday.

Tokyo tiptoed into the bidding race after losing out to Rio de Janeiro for 2016 and with the country still recovering from a deadly tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis in 2011.

“You can’t predict with any certainty where and when earthquakes will hit,” Tokyo’s bid President Tsunekazu Takeda told reporters.

“They can potentially happen in any country. It’s the reaction to the quake which is the most important thing and to be ready as a nation if that occurs.”

Tokyo, which hosted Asia’s first Olympics in 1964, is the favourite with British bookmaker William Hill to beat rivals Istanbul and Madrid, offering odds of 4/6. Istanbul are 5/2 and Madrid 3/1.

Despite Tokyo’s economic strength and strong infrastructure, Takeda faced questions over whether the city could withstand another major earthquake.

A 9.0-magnitude quake in March 2011 triggered tsunami waves of up to 40 m, killing more than 15,000 people in northeast Japan and causing a meltdown at a nuclear plant north of Tokyo.

“In Japan, the procedures for dealing with disasters and architectural guidelines are very stringent,” said Takeda. “In the 2011 disaster there were no casualties in Tokyo.

“The buildings really didn’t suffer damage. We stressed to the IOC (International Olympic Committee) that Tokyo’s buildings can withstand earthquakes.

“Tokyo’s Government is also working on making sports facilities even more quake-proof and seven years from now they certainly will be,” he said as the city unveiled its bold, waterside plan for the 2020 Olympics.

All three cities Madrid bidding for a third consecutive time and Istanbul a fifth submitted their candidature files to the IOC in Lausanne on Monday.

“Tokyo is the world’s most forward-thinking city,” said Japanese Olympic Committee chief Takeda. “It sets global trends in everything from technology to fashion.

“Many of our venues are in place. Most of the Games infrastructure is in place. The US$ 4.5-billion budget is already in the bank for games in the capital of the future.”