IOC chief calls for Japan’s 2020 Olympics bid

Tokyo should not be discouraged from bidding for the 2020 Olympics just because South Korea has won the right to host the 2018 winter Games, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Thursday.

Citing several examples, like Athens in 2004 and Turin in 2006, IOC president Jacques Rogge pointed out the IOC has no formal opposition to hosting successive Games on the same continent.

“There is a perception that there is an automatic rotation of countries but this is not the case,” Rogge said at a press conference. “We would welcome a strong bid from Tokyo.”

Tokyo, which lost out to Rio de Janeiro in the race to host the 2016 Olympics is expected to announce a formal bid for 2020 this week.

Madrid announced its 2020 candidacy on Wednesday. Rome has already declared its bid and Istanbul is also considering joining the race. The IOC will select the 2020 host city in 2013.

Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964 and the Winter Games in Sapporo in 1972 and in Nagano in 1998.

Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara has said wants the 2020 Olympics to show the world how Japan recovered after the devastation caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami which left as many as 23 000 people dead or missing.

Dashed hopes
Meanwhile, Rogge all but ruled out North Korea’s hopes of co-hosting the 2018 games with Pyeongchang.

“The IOC awards the Games to one city in one country,” Rogge said. “In the specific case of North and South Korea, there have been times when the two countries paraded together in the opening ceremony and this is something we would consider. As far as spreading venues, that is something that we don’t consider under the current Olympic charter.”

A North Korean official had expressed hope that his country could co-host the Games with South Korea, a news report said on Wednesday.

The head of South Korea’s main opposition party also said earlier this week that he favoured allowing North Korea to co-host, and the ruling party agreed to push for a joint team of athletes from both Koreas at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

However a South Korean presidential spokesperson Sohn Jie-ae told reporters that Seoul is not considering sharing the event.

Pyeongchang is in north-east South Korea near the demilitarised zone that separates the two nations. Its province was cut into North and South Korean sides after the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, which ended in a truce.

Rogge was in Tokyo to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Japanese Olympic Committee. — Sapa-AP

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