PARIS - Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games is helping to heal the wounds left by the massive quake and tsunami that killed nearly 19,000 people in Japan last year, the bid leader Tsunekazu Takeda told AFP.
The 65-year-old - who was elected to the International Olympic Committee prior to the London Olympics this year - added the economic spin-off from winning the right to host the Games would also have a hugely positive effect on the country.
"This bid is a vivid demonstration of the power of sport with athletes and sport playing a key role at the heart of society after a difficult time," Takeda told AFP in an interview.
"The Bid process - and ultimately having the chance to host the Games - is helping Japan heal and re-unite after a difficult 2011.
"Without a doubt, Tohoku (the region affected by the tsunami), and the rest of Japan, will benefit from the Games.
"According to calculations provided by the city of Tokyo, the economic effect on the nation as a whole is estimated to amount to $38 billion.
"Even when the cost of hosting the Games is taken into account, being named host city will have a net positive impact on the Japanese economy.
"The studies conducted by the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Bid Committee, in cooperation with Mitsubishi Research Institute, show that the Games would create more than 150,000 jobs nationwide."
Takeda, who like his late father Prince Tsuneyoshi Takeda was an accomplished show jumper, said whilst many might have Tokyo as the frontrunner for the three-runner race - Istanbul and Madrid are the other candidates - he had little time for such tags.
"Bidding for the Olympic and Paralympic Games is no mere event," he said.
"We believe that each of the cities bidding to host the Games is incredibly motivated and has some very interesting concepts.
"I'm not interested in whether Tokyo is today's frontrunner. I want Tokyo to be tomorrow's winner."
Takeda, who along with his team will learn their fate at the vote of the 100+ IOC members in Buenos Aires on September 7 next year, believes this Tokyo bid has learnt from the previous one which came third to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 edition.
"Tokyo 2020 is an enhanced bid; we kept the best and improved the rest.
"We have revised our plans in a number of key areas: the main stadium, new village location and better use of transportation and other infrastructures.
"We have a new committee, a new team and new plans."
On that note Takeda, who is the great grandson of Emperor Meiji who ruled Japan from 1867-1912, said despite the recent resignation of the charismatic and unpredictable Shintaro Ishihara as Governor of Tokyo the bid retained support at local level.
"Despite Shintaro Ishihara's resignation as Governor of Tokyo, we are confident that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will continue providing support for the bid and that Ishihara's resignation will have no impact on our campaign."
Takeda, who said Tokyo would be a safe pair of hands to entrust the Games to, said he was delighted with the campaign so far.
"We have an incredible campaign and a great story to tell," said Takeda, who first got inspired by the Games when he attended the 1964 renewal in Tokyo.
"While we are, of course, respecting IOC's guidelines regarding limits on international communications, we are actively preparing ourselves for a global launch in January next year."
Takeda, who said a Tokyo Games would be one of excellence, excitement and innovation, agreed a dream scenario next year could pan out.
It would be for Tokyo to be voted in as hosts in September and Japan's great racehorse Orfevre to return and win Europe's most prestigious race the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe a month later after a heartbreaking runners-up spot this year.
"I watched the race and I was very excited by the performance of the Japanese horse, Orfevre.
"Unfortunately, he finished second after an incredible finish, but it's always an honour to see our country represented.
"I really like the scenario you are describing and I am sure Orfevre and all his team would be thrilled by Tokyo's victory next year."
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