Why Tokyo needs the Olympic Games

People offering prayers for victims of the 2011 tsunami at Arahama district in Sendai on March 11, the second anniversary of the disaster. Hosting the Olympics will provide a goal for Japan to aspire to after the tragedy.

Organisational efficiency and superlative hardware are desirable, but passion will probably determine which of the three candidate cities gets to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The ability of Tokyo to manage the world's largest sporting event is not in doubt.

Governor Naoki Inose, who is heading Tokyo's bid, was in St Petersburg yesterday to tell International Olympic Committee (IOC) executives meeting on the sidelines of an annual sporting convention what a great host his city will make.

Critics, however, say that what is lacking so far is a storyline that will make Tokyo's presentation a compelling one.

Emphasising how safe a city Tokyo is, how good it is at running a world-class sporting event, and how much money it already has in the bank to bankroll the Games is all and good.

But passion - why Japan so badly wants to host another Olympic Games - is something the Japanese have not been successful in conveying to the world. The script for that has been written and efforts have been made to act it out.

But the Japanese, it seems, are not so good at story-telling. Far easier, it seems, to tout Tokyo's superb infrastructure, and the efficiency and hospitality that the Japanese are world famous for.

What Japan really has to tell the world is that it needs a dream to lift the spirits of a nation that two years ago was ravaged by a huge tsunami and earthquake. Hosting the Olympics will provide a goal for the Japanese to aspire to.

As one official put it, the Olympics will enable the Japanese to brace themselves for the monumental task of reconstruction of northern Japan, which in many areas still lags behind because of the scale of destruction.

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