Posted by: Ian Rowley on October 12, 2009
Less than two weeks after Tokyo lost out to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Japanese politicians are keener than ever to host the games. According to a Kyodo Newswire report, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are considering a joint bid for 2020.
The cities, both of which were decimated by atomic bombs in 1945, are investigating whether hosting the event is feasible. The cities plan to use the games to promote a nuclear free world. “The Olympics symbolizes the abolition of nuclear arms and world peace, and we want to work to realize our plan to host it,” Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba told a press conference in the city, Kyodo reports. Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue was also in attendance. Representatives of the cities will meet with the Japanese Olympic Committee today to discuss the plan. At a later date, they will meet with the Japanese government.
For Hiroshima/Nagasaki to be successful where Tokyo failed would be a huge achievement. One reason Tokyo made the last four (alongside Rio, Madrid and Chicago) was the financial strength of its bid after securing state funding guarantees. For two relatively small, provincial cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki (their combined population is about 1.6 million) to finance an Olympics sounds like a tall order. Tokyo had set aside $4 billion to pay for the games and spent $166 million on its losing bid. Meanwhile, a criticism of the Tokyo bid was that not enough Tokyoites supported the games coming to Japan. Whether the taxpayers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be any keener is debatable. And, having stomached the recent loss, Tokyo may bid again for 2020.
Of course, combining the Olympics with a message of peace and the ideal of a nuclear-free world could go down well with IOC members. The Beijing games, after all, were partly about promoting democracy and human rights in communist China. Nevertheless, Japanese anti-nuclear campaigners have given a mixed reaction to the plans. Kyodo reports that the head of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Suffers Organization, welcomed the move saying it would match his organization’s aim to rid the world of nuclear weapons by 2020. However, Hirotami Yamada, secretary general of Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivors Council was less enthusiastic. “Hosting the games would cost a huge amount, and I doubt if we have that kind of money. Instead, we should hold events to promote peace,” he said.