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.
Members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Buenos Aires chose the Japanese capital, which previously hosted the Games in 1964, over Istanbul, after Madrid was dramatically eliminated following a first-round tie with the Turkish city yesterday.
Crowds gathered in Tokyo broke into wild cheers, despite the result coming in the early hours of the morning nearly a dozen time zones away, television pictures showed.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had earlier flown in to the Argentine capital from the G20 summit in St Petersburg, Russia, to reassure nervous members about the safety of the nuclear plant some 220 km (140 miles) from the city and fears about the leaking of contaminated water.
He told delegates that the situation was “under control”, adding: “It has never done or will do any damage to Tokyo.”
Fukushima operator the Tokyo Electric Power Co also played down fears of a possible spread of radiation in a separate message.
Concerns over Fukushima — seriously damaged in the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people — had dogged the bid in the final days but Abe successfully allayed IOC members’ fears.
The final result was 60 votes for Tokyo against 36 for Istanbul, said the IOC.
Tokyo — third in the vote for the 2016 Games won by Rio de Janeiro — had been the frontrunners originally, as they promised a safe and financially secure Games in what they termed “uncertain times”.
The decision means it will be the fourth time that Japan plays host to the Olympics, having also organised hosted winter Games in Nagano (1998) and Sapporo (1972).
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