Olympics: Japanese Crown Prince invited to Copenhagen
Thu, Jun 18, 2009

LAUSANNE, Switzerland - The Japanese Crown Prince and his wife have been invited by the Prime Minister to come to Copenhagen for the vote on the host for the 2016 Olympic Games on October 2, the Governor of Tokyo revealed on Thursday.

The Governor, Shintaro Isihara, said that he had formally asked Prime Minister Taro Aso - a former Olympic shooter - to make the invitation to Crown Prince Naruhito prior to leaving for Lausanne where he headed the delegation making the presentation to 93 members of the International Olympic Committee.

"It is difficult to ask Emperor Akihito because of his age and his health," the Governor said.

"I have asked, however, that Prime Minister Aso formally ask the Crown Prince and his wife to attend.

"I made the request before I left for Switzerland."

All the other candidates Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro are rumoured to have asked their respective heads of state to attend and do some last minute lobbying on their behalf.

Chicago has President Barack Obama - a former senator froom Illinois - the Spanish King Juan Carlos is rumoured to be set to be there with his wife while President Lula of Brazil is almost certain to be there as he has been very prominent in promoting the bid.

The fashion for heads of state attending the final days of the race to win the right to host the Olympics has become fashionable of late.

Then British Prime Minister Tony Blair is credited for a remarkable charm offensive in Singapore in 2005 which saw London overcome hot favourites Paris.

The same could be said of the race for the 2014 Winter Olympics when then Russian President - now Prime Minister - Vladimir Putin arrived in Guatemala, for the first official visit by a Russian head of State, to lobby on behalf of the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

He displayed his diplomatic skills as Sochi beat off the challenge of favourites Pyeongchang - who had the late South Korean President Roh - and Salzburg, whose Chancellor was also present.

There has been some disquiet among IOC members that heads of state can play too much of a role in influencing the outcome but while some wanted them to be barred from attending and only allow the Ministers for Sport others said that would be extremely rude.

However, IOC President Jacques Rogge said on Tuesday it was impossible in any case to stop them coming as several heads of government like the Chancellor of Austria were also their Ministers for Sport, and they would be allowed to attend so long as they stayed within the boundaries of the IOC Ethics Commission.

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