Olympics: NZ delighted with Tokyo decision

By David Leggat

The choice of Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympics has been greeted with delight by New Zealand's Olympic boss Keryn Smith.

Tokyo beat out Istanbul and Madrid for the hosting rights at the International Olympic Committee meeting in Buenos Aires today.

Madrid was first to drop out after tying with Istanbul on the first vote. Tokyo won the final vote 60-36 over Istanbul.

''For us it's a wonderful opportunity," Smith said.

''It's proximity to New Zealand makes it really compelling and exciting. We know they're incredibly well organised, high tech, with enormous capacity in terms of people, transport, infrastructure and all the elements of high performance sport."

One of New Zealand's two International Olympic Committee representatives, Barry Maister, reinforced Smith's view, and added that it is a good result for the IOC.

''It's good for our athletes, they're painting a picture of a user friendly environment and the fact we have similar time ones and have very strong links with Japan in all sorts of ways is very helpful," former Olympic hockey gold medallist Maister said from Buenos Aires.

One of the IOC's concerns is that with the last two Games decisions having gone to Sochi in Russia for next year's Winter Olympics, and Rio for the 2016 Summer Games, both of which have financial issues, it wanted certainty in that area.

''We've been hearing in the last 24 hours of disquiet about Rio's ability to deliver a return for the IOC. They're behind the 8-ball in that regard and Sochi isn't strong either.

''So the IOC needs to have something like Tokyo, which has $US4.5 billion in the bank to start with a and a set of corporate sponsors already signed up to provide financial certainty."

Maister, who described all three bids as ''very sophisticated", said Tokyo had addressed the radiation issue affecting the country as well as it could during the final bid presentations.

''It's fair to say each city had issues but you can't hide them under the carpet," Maister said.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had ''in a sense" glossed over it during his speech but when he was quizzed during the subsequent question and answer session ''he nailed it to the greatest degree he could".

Maister, wouldn't confirm which city he had voted for - it is an independent vote and not aligned to a members' country's wishes - but indicated Tokyo had been his choice. Former Olympic gold board sailing gold medallist Barbara Kendall is New Zealand's other IOC member.

Smith confirmed the NZOC is in the market to host an IOC session, acknowledging it is unlikely to be viable until at least 2019.
''We've begun the process," she said.

''It's certainly an aspiration of ours and we've had discussions with Government and Auckland city. It would be dependent on having a venue capable of hosting an event on a considerable scale. The whole package is enormous.

''It's on our radar but we wouldn't be able to seriously submit until we were confident a convention centre is confirmed."

Maister described it as ''an amazing opportunity to expose your country and certainly Argentina has done it very well through this process,highlighting itself and its sport. It's something we (New Zealand) need to consider."

- NZ Herald

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