Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Tokyo lights go out

October 3, 2009

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.

But Tokyo officials had hardly splashed out and the event quickly descended into farce. There was no champagne on ice, just beer.OLYMPIC/TOKYO

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.”

OLYMPIC/TOKYOTokyo, 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


There’s something about the Japanese culture that is just amazing. Japan is a country that lost everything in the past and now has everything. They just accept things the way they are. This article clearly shows this in such a fantastic way and the story about the little screen TV is so funny because I could relate to you and feel the same way. As for me, I am Brazilian and I would probably be mourning for weeks had Rio lost. Perhaps, we all should learn a little from the Japanese. Perhaps they will learn a little from the Cariocas as well. Perhaps.

Posted by Marcus | Report as abusive

I live in Hershey, Pennsylvania a white American who thinks Tokyo should have got these olympics. But in today’s society.. its who can grasp most of the political votes. it has nothing to do with where it will be but big money….. the OIC sucks, just look at some of the sports the keep and those they drop… America is hated all over the world just a Russia once was for always winning.. Hey, the best athletes should be in the Olympics and not politically but as a good athlete… I have seen how the OIC works and it sucks.. why cant we have the Olympics in Russia? Politics friends, politics.. there its off my chest… God bless all and God bless America and crap on the OIC…..

Posted by grant morrill | Report as abusive

It was so sad that Tokyo didn’t win. I was hoping that I will watch Olympics for the first time without goin’ anywhere far. Since the lost ,I don’t want to hear anything about Olympics…yet…

Posted by Liza | Report as abusive

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