JOC President Takeda Says Tokyo Has 'Huge' Amount Of Prep Work For Games
Japanese Olympic Committee President TSUNEKAZU TAKEDA barely had time to celebrate Tokyo winning the rights to host the 2020 Summer Olympics before having to dive into the massive task of getting the city ready for its global close-up. Recently, Takeda took time to talk with SBD Global about the bidding process and the challenges ahead.
Q: Shortly after the IOC's decisions to award the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo, media reports called Tokyo's bid the safest choice for the IOC. How did you feel about those reports? And do you agree with this assessment?
Tsunekazu Takeda: Throughout the campaign Tokyo’s bid was often reported as a safe choice. As I’ve said many times before -- Tokyo is a safe pair of hands for the Olympic Movement and this is something to be proud of. The city of Tokyo runs like clockwork, has exceptional experience in hosting major international sport events and is a fantastic stage for the world’s greatest celebration, the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Q: Going forward with less than seven years until the opening ceremony, what are the most important issues you want to tackle right away?
Takeda: A huge amount of work is ahead of us and we want to be ahead of time. Our promise to the IOC is to deliver fantastic Games in 2020. Delivering early will allow us to focus on the ‘extras’ that will make the difference between good and fantastic Games.
Q: Do you already have a sponsorship strategy? Or are you already in talks with potential sponsors?
Takeda: Tokyo 2020’s potential for domestic sponsorship is unmatched. The Tokyo 2020 bid was supported by 21 official partners; many of them major international companies. And you may know that Japanese companies have long had strong enthusiasm toward domestic and international sports events. We estimate that domestic sponsorship eventually could exceed $930 million. The Japanese Olympic Committee currently boasts 29 sponsors in its Gold Partner and Official Partner programs. Our marketing program, including the sponsorship strategy detailed in the Candidature File, was praised by the IOC Evaluation Commission and we are confident that in Tokyo 2020, there will be benefits for all the Games’ stakeholders.
Q: Security has become a major concern. How will you try to ensure the Games will be safe for both spectators and athletes?
Takeda: Tokyo is a safe and secure place. Of course there will be very strict and large safety plans and we will make full use of the world’s largest police force and of its effective and well-coordinated security capabilities. Our Organising Committee will have a Security Department with representatives from all relevant public organizations involved in Olympic security. It will work closely with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department to facilitate the development of an integrated Olympic Security Plan. However, residents and visitors share a common perception of Tokyo: they find that it offers a safe and secure environment. Domestic safety and security is a testament to values the country shares with the Olympic Movement and with the people of Japan, for whom excellence, friendship and respect are a way of life.
Q: In your Olympic bid, you presented renderings for a new stadium at the site of the old Olympic Stadium as well as a revitalization of the waterfront. How far along are those plans and are you already working with architects and construction companies on concrete plans?
Takeda: Our compact venue plan presents two zones: the Heritage Zone and the Tokyo Bay Zone. Indeed, the majority of the new permanent venues and the Olympic Village will be within the revitalized Tokyo Bay area. For planning and celebration reasons, we wanted the Olympic Stadium in the west of Tokyo, but still very close to the Olympic Village. Regarding the Olympic Stadium, London-based architect Zaha Hadid’s design was selected last year in an international contest and a construction company will be chosen later.
Q: With so many people, Tokyo is obviously very susceptible to traffic congestions. Are there any plans regarding this issue, such as the creation of "Olympic Lanes" used in London last summer?
Takeda: We are experienced at managing major events and we have a world-class transport system. The Evaluation Commission recognized the excellence and scale of our world-leading public transport system. The train network alone manages about 26 million passenger trips a day, on average. Traffic is always lighter in August when people are on holiday and we would improve flows by a further 10% using special management measures, park and ride schemes, and the building of more ring roads (planned irrespective of the Games). To further reinforce transport services during the Games, Tokyo 2020 will lay out an appropriate set of Olympic Lanes and Olympic Priority Routes -- totalling approximately 607km -- connecting competition venues non-competition venues, and training venues, guaranteeing full reliability for Olympic traffic.
Q: As with every big sporting event, hotel prices are expect to rise considerably during the Games. However, Tokyo isn't a cheap city to start with, so will it try to work together with the government to make sure hotel prices stay at reasonable rates?
Takeda: Tokyo’s accommodation plan is exceptionally strong, with approximately 140,000 existing hotel rooms within a 50km radius of Tokyo. Tokyo has a wide variety of room types and categories, which will meet the individual requirements of all guests of the Games. It is important to note that within each hotel category, Tokyo 2020 offers a wide range of room rates and all the hotels selected in the Tokyo 2020 accommodation plan have produced guarantees with maximum 2020 room rates. Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to collaborate with hotel industry groups and travel agents to form a liaison council to ensure this wide range of reasonably priced accommodation options is available to meet the individual needs of visitors.
Q: According to your bid, you expect the Tokyo Games to cost between $5 billion and $6 billion. How confident are you about those estimates?
Takeda: Tokyo’s OCOG budget will be $3.4 billion and the non-OCOG budget will be divided into public spending for $3.5 billion and $1.4 billion for the private sector. These amounts are forecasted for 2012 with a currency of 88 JPY for one dollar. This is a very reasonable budget and we are very confident the TOCOG budget will be balanced and strictly monitored on a monthly basis. And we have a $4.5 billion Games Hosting Fund available. This is actually more substantial than our projected capital investment. Our budget has been meticulously planned; our plans have been implemented in an economically responsible manner, and Tokyo is a fully developed city that doesn’t require major new infrastructure development. There is no reason Tokyo would run over costs.