Japan Lukewarm To Olympics

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported Jan. 15 that 70.2 percent of Japanese people surveyed said that they want the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in Japan’s capital.

Separate results of Tokyoites garnered a support rate of 68.6 percent.

Nevertheless, the figure exceeds those found in two previous surveys. Only 62 percent of Tokyo residents supported the Tokyo bid in Dec. 2007. A mere 59 percent said the same in June 2008.

Local support is one of the criteria for choosing the host city. Among the main contenders for the 2016 games, Tokyo’s support rate is conspicuously the lowest despite topping a preliminary survey in terms of total results for all criteria used by the International Olympic Committee’s selection group.

Generally speaking, opposing Tokyo residents do so because they assume they will have to pay a lot of money for hosting privileges.

The national survey, which was carried out at the insistence of Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, was considered by some to be beside the point because the IOC insists that the host of an Olympic games be a city, not a country.

Ishihara, a notorious nationalist, has been very vocal about making the bid a nationwide project, and has even tried to enlist the Crown Prince as an “ambassador.”

The Imperial Household Agency, which manages the activities of the royal family, has rejected Ishihara’s proposal, saying the Crown Prince is prohibited by the Constitution from becoming involved in politics.