Nov 30, 2011
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Tokyo's 2020 bid turns to "flower power"

Nov 30, 2011

TOKYO - Tokyo's 2020 Olympic bid leaders claim there will be "no mistakes" this time after losing the race to host the 2016 Summer Games as they unveiled a dazzling cherry blossom logo on Wednesday.

Once-bitten, Tokyo shyly tiptoed into the race for 2020 after the deadly earthquake and tsunami in March which triggered a nuclear meltdown at a power plant north of the capital.

The colourful, wreath-shaped logo of Japan's most celebrated flower was created by a university art and design student to symbolise 'revitalisation'.

Bid committee CEO Masato Mizuno told Reuters: "It is the idea of 'coming back again'... the Olympic Games coming back to Tokyo and Japan coming back (from the disaster).

"Along with Mount Fuji, the cherry blossom is instantly recognisable as a symbol of Japan. We learned many lessons last time round and we must be ready this time."

Tokyo, which hosted Asia's first Olympics in 1964, lost out to Rio de Janeiro in the race for 2016.

Low public support was largely blamed and the cost of rebuilding after the devastating tsunami in northeast Japan had thrown preparations for a renewed tilt in a spin.

However, the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) decided in June that sufficient funds existed to launch a new bid despite the nuclear crisis still raging at the time.

"Japan is struggling (to rebuild) and I wanted to come up with something to give Japan energy and vitality," designer Ai Shimamine told reporters after unveiling her logo.

"I hope it gives Japan a boost. The cherry blossom represents friendship and peace, has a softness and also holds a special place in the hearts of Japanese people."

Tokyo's logo features the Olympic colours of red, blue, yellow and green dotted with the traditional purple prominent in cultural events in Japan's Edo period (1603-1867).


"It has a comfortable feel for Japan," JOC chief and bid committee president Tsunekazu Takeda said. "We hope it will play a key role in winning the battle for 2020."

Mizuno insisted Tokyo's 2020 bid would benefit from the disappointment of its stinging defeat by Rio.

"Public support was around 55 percent but my target this time is 65-75 percent," he said, adding that the global economic downturn had also hurt Tokyo's 2016 bid.

"It's around 62 percent currently but we have much work to do. There can be no mistakes in our presentation this time.

"(South Korea's) Pyeongchang made a wonderful presentation (for the 2018 Winter Games) and we will have a much better total plan too."

Madrid, which also lost out in the 2016 bidding war, and Rome are expected to give Tokyo a run for its money.

The winner will be chosen by the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires in September 2013.

"We also have to polish our lobbying skills. We Japanese don't speak English very well," added Mizuno... in perfect English.

By Alastair Himmer

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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