Big decision in wee hours brings great joy

People at a public viewing venue in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo erupt with joy.

JAPAN - The early Sunday hour made no difference-the entire nation erupted in joy when the announcement was made in Buenos Aires that Tokyo would host the Olympic Games for a second time.

People watching the International Olympic Committee's general assembly live at public viewing venues joyfully chanted "Tokyo," while many others celebrated in front of their TVs at home.

About 2,500 people-including 41-year-old sprinter Nobuharu Asahara, who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics-spent the night waiting for the historic moment at Komazawa Olympic Park Gymnasium in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. When IOC President Jacques Rogge announced that Tokyo had been chosen as the host city of the 2020 Olympics, everyone in the gymnasium stood up, shouting and hugging each other in joy.

A female part-time worker in Setagaya Ward who was born in 1964, the year of the first Tokyo Olympics, said with tears in her eyes: "It's like a dream that I can watch the Olympic Games in Japan seven years from now. It's strong encouragement for my life."

People in business and political circles, members of the Tokyo metropolitan government and Olympic athletes waited for the announcement in a hall of the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Cheers of "banzai" echoed throughout the hall when the decision came.

Hiromi Miyake, a weightlifter who won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics, said excitedly: "I think the Japanese people's enthusiasm for hosting the 2020 Olympics must have been conveyed to IOC members. It was the most wonderful presentation."

To celebrate Tokyo's winning bid, the Olympic cauldron was ignited at about noon Sunday in the National Stadium, the main stadium of the 1964 Games.

Joyful voices were heard across the nation. Akiko Iwasaki, a 57-year-old manager of the Horaikan inn in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, said she realised all people on Earth are connected with each other when she saw the wave of support from around the world after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

"The Olympics will give people in quake-hit areas a chance to show how they're moving forward with hope in their hearts," Iwasaki said.

Hiroki Ichiganani, a fencer who competed in the Atlanta Olympics and is now a teacher at Sanbon-Matsu High School in Kagawa Prefecture, exchanged high fives with his three daughters in front of their TV at the announcement. Ichigatani saw Yuki Ota, a fencer he coached when Ota was a junior athlete, saying on TV, "I'm glad we can give children a dream."

Watching Ota say this in tears, Ichi-gatani was moved, too.

"I was impressed with the enthusiasm of Ota, who is always thinking about expanding the foundation of sports in Japan," he said.

 

8.42 million extras

The Yomiuri Shimbun published about 8.42 million copies of an extra issue reporting that Tokyo was chosen to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

About 1,200 free copies were distributed to people in Komazawa Olympic Park. Families and other participants in a sporting event held there were seen reading the extra with interest.