Japan still considering 2020 Olympic bid

The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 23, 2011; 8:51 AM

LONDON -- Japan is still considering a bid to host the 2020 Olympics despite the triple blow caused by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear radiation crisis, a senior national Olympic committee official said Wednesday.

The Japanese Olympic Committee said it was "very surprised" at the recent comments made by Italian IOC member Mario Pescante, who said he was told by Japan's ambassador in Rome that Japan had decided not to pursue a bid because of the disasters.

"The JOC is considering the 2020 bid. We (have) not changed our policy," Yasuhiro Nakamori, the JOC's international relations director, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Nakamori said the JOC will hold a strategy meeting next Tuesday and make a final decision on whether to bid in July.

"We (still) have a lot of things to do to make a decision, even though we have experience, some knowledge and planning through the 2016 bid activities," he said.

Tokyo, which staged the 1964 Olympics, bid unsuccessfully for the 2016 Games, which were awarded to Rio de Janeiro. None of the venues from the 1964 Olympics were damaged in the quake.

The head of the JOC, Tsunekazu Takeda, met with IOC President Jacques Rogge in Lausanne, Switzerland, last week to discuss the relief efforts in Japan.

Pescante, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee who is leading Rome's bid for the 2020 Games, told Italian state radio RAI on Monday that he had discussed the situation with the Japanese ambassador to Italy at Sunday's Rome marathon.

"The Japanese ambassador told me that their country can't put forth the Tokyo bid," Pescante said. "There's a spirit of solidarity with them. If we had been beaten by Tokyo, we would still have had reason to celebrate."

Hiroshima and Nagasaki - the two Japanese cities hit by atomic bombs in World War II - have also expressed interest in a joint Olympic bid.

Japan has been forced to give up the World Figure Skating Championships, which were scheduled to be held in Tokyo this week.

National Olympic committees have until Sept. 1 to submit the names of 2020 bid cities to the IOC.

Rome is the only city so far that has been officially nominated by its national committee.

South Africa is expected to submit a bid, with Durban the most likely candidate. Madrid, Istanbul, Doha and Dubai are among other potential contenders.

Japan and others will wait until after the IOC votes July 6 on the host city for the 2018 Winter Games.

The candidates are Pyeongchang, South Korea; Munich; and Annecy, France.

If Pyeongchang wins, it's unlikely Japan would go ahead with a 2020 bid as the IOC would be reluctant to vote so soon for another Asian city.


AP Sports Writer Andrew Dampf in Rome contributed to this report.

© 2011 The Associated Press