SOCHI, Russia - The head of the organisers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori, on Sunday said he had been inspired by the opening of Sochi 2014 to make even greater efforts for Japan's Games.
Mori said that Tokyo, which won the right to host the 2020 Games at the IOC session in Buenos Aires in September, would make the Olympics a symbol of Japan's reconstruction after the 2011 earthquake.
He said that during the Sochi opening ceremony "I was filled with emotion and thought of welcoming the Olympic flame in Tokyo. I resolved to make even further efforts for the successful hosting of the Games."
Mori, a fanatical rugby fan and a personal friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he had already met twice with the Russian strongman during these Olympics.
"I know he has conflicts and disputes in the world," said Mori, apparently referring to Putin's sometimes stormy relationship with the West.
"But he has said that during these Games the world is at peace and I really agree with him."
Mori recalled that in last Olympic Games hosted by the Japanese capital in 1964 the country - "shattered by defeat" in World War II - showed the world that it had "become a peaceful nation."
These Games would also show that Japan "has come far as a peaceful power in the world."
"We were hit by a big disaster (the earthquake) but we are reconstructing and want to show our robustness and our appreciation" for the global help.
More than 18,000 people died when a 9.0-magnitude sub-sea earthquake sent a towering tsunami barrelling into Japan's northeast coast in March 2011 in the country's worst post-World War II disaster.
Mori, who addressed reporters in Japanese through a translator, admitted that his English was not yet up to scratch.
"When I was at school in the war, English was considered an enemy language. Japanese was even used in the world of baseball," he explained.