January 08, 2013

TOKYO (AP) -- Tokyo has boasted of its safety, advanced infrastructure and convenience after handing over its bid documents to host the 2020 Olympics.

"The bid is highlighting the ability to deliver the games in the heart of the city with guaranteed quality and maximum benefits," Tokyo 2020 bid committee president Tsunekazu Takeda said at a news conference Tuesday. "Many of our venues are in place; most of the games infrastructure is in place and the $4.5 billion budget to complete these tasks is already in the bank."

Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo bid committees handed over their documents at International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday, setting the stage for the final months of a campaign between three cities that all lost in previous bids.

Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, finished third in the voting for 2016. The IOC will select the host city in a secret ballot in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7.

Tokyo received the highest praise in an IOC technical report last year that said the Japanese bid presents "a very strong application." Madrid has a "strong application," while Istanbul's project "offers good potential," the report said.

While Tokyo is seen as a safe choice, Istanbul has a novelty factor as Turkey has never hosted the Olympics - a key factor in recent host-city votes.

Takeda called Tokyo one of the world's safest and most welcoming cities, while governor Naoki Inose said the Japanese capital of 35 million offers an infrastructure that is among the most advanced in the world.

"We have a highly developed infrastructure that includes a public transportation system capable of carrying 25 million people daily," Inose said.

Tokyo officials also pointed out that 28 out of the 33 competition venues are within a five-mile radius of the Olympic Village, meaning less travel time for athletes.

Two major differences from Tokyo's failed bid to host the 2016 Games are a larger Olympic Village with more space for athletes to train and a more centralized main stadium.

In the 2016 plan, Tokyo organizers planned to build the main stadium on a pier in Tokyo Bay. IOC officials worried about access given that the stadium was surrounded by water on three sides. The new plan calls for the renovation of the 1964 main Olympic stadium in the center of Tokyo.

The new 80,000-seat stadium will first serve as the main stadium for the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be hosted by Japan.

In addition to safety and convenience, Tokyo also has the benefit of support from the national government. Earlier Tuesday, Takeda met with newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who pledged the government's full backing for Tokyo's bid.

One area that hurt Tokyo's bid to host the 2016 Olympics was public support, but Tokyo officials say that is improving since Japan's strong showing at the London Olympics. A recent poll by Tokyo organizers had public support at 67 percent, which is still behind Madrid and Istanbul but much higher than the 47 percent recorded in an IOC poll last year.

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