Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Tokyo lights go out
Tokyo’s failure to win the 2016 Olympic bid triggered bemused shrugs and a rush for the exits at Tokyo Tower when the result was announced well past midnight on Saturday morning. In truth, no one at the bid party in the Tower seemed to really expect Tokyo to win.
Drummers drummed, cheerleaders rustled pom-poms and a seeming endless string of noisy TV celebrities took turns at the microphone to drum up some Olympic fever among the 400-plus partygoers.
Odds-on favourite Chicago’s early elimination drew gasps, certainly bigger than those when Tokyo went out moments later in the second round, when confusion reigned supreme.
“Are we in or out? Out? Oh, well,” was the typical reaction of those gathered.
A delay between Tokyo’s name being erased from the electronic board at the IOC vote in Copenhagen and it flashing on the TV screen in Japanese amplified the sense of anti-climax.
Within minutes the television screens were switched off, Japanese media had gone and volunteers were packing up tables and chairs, apologetically handing out the last of the free beer to those of us left wondering where we would be able to see the rest of the vote –- the most important bit!
We learned of Rio de Janeiro’s victory on a tiny TV screen on a cheerleader’s mobile phone.
“I wanted Rio to win if Tokyo didn’t,” said 27-year-old Akiko Shindo, owner of the phone. “The Brazilians seem to have Olympic fever.”
Tokyo, which hosted Asia’s first Olympics in 1964, was quoted as 25-1 to win by some major bookmakers, behind Chicago, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid, and was never realistically likely to win, given Beijing’s hosting of last year’s Games.
In a country where cutting edge robot technology and centuries-old rituals merge, news of Tokyo’s defeat prompted a mixture of sadness and resignation.
“Really? said Masaru Toda, a 58-year-old fishmonger, when told the result. “I’m not surprised. I remember the 1964 Games. It was right it went to South America.”
Photo credits: REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao