Buenos Aires, 7 September 2013.
Today I watched in fascination as my Olympic journey completed a full circle with the election of Tokyo as host city for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It took me back to that fateful day in July 2005 when the London bid surprised the world and came through to take the honours.
Of course this time I did not have the nervous tension of needing to win but nonetheless it was a tense occasion. The three Candidate Cities all desperately wanted to win and each of them truly believed they could do it. The fact that Tokyo won at a canter does not do justice to the perceived closeness of the race right up until the end.
Sitting on the Evaluation Commission podium watching each of the final presentations from the bid teams I was glad I did not have to make a choice and vote myself. That was purely the prerogative of the 94 eligible IOC members present in the room for the first round of voting. They looked a lot calmer than I felt but many of them have been through this a number of times.
The presentations were all of excellent quality and they seemed to have reached a higher level still from what I recall of the 2012 bid presentations. It was nice, however, to see traces of the London formula woven into each of this year’s crop. That in part is a result of the small industry of global advisers and experts working on both the content and communication of bids these days, to the extent that they are all remarkably similar.
It will be a brave city that in future adopts a novel and untried formula but that might be what it takes to be distinctive enough to rise above the competition.
Meanwhile, this time Tokyo did a splendid job in lacing their final pitch with emotion, fun and stardust in the form of a surprise appearance by Princess Hisako of Takamado, to complement their technical excellence and robust financial situation.
So commiserations to Madrid and Istanbul, both of whom had given it their all but in the end the IOC members were heavily won over by the surety of Tokyo’s offer coupled with the sense that they will be able to deliver very special and joyful Games in their own style.
Now for my part, I am looking forward to seeing how this translates in terms of sustainability. They certainly have a great basis upon which to build a very impressive programme. We shall see… but for now hearty congratulations are in order.