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Originally published July 17, 2011 at 9:22 PM | Page modified July 18, 2011 at 9:07 AM

Tokyo's bid for 2020 Olympics a sign of healing

Tokyo's announcement over the weekend that it will bid for the 2020 Olympics is intended to show the world it can recover and stage a successful Games after the devastation caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The Associated Press

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TOKYO — Tokyo's announcement over the weekend that it will bid for the 2020 Olympics is intended to show the world it can recover and stage a successful Games after the devastation caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda confirmed the Japanese capital's candidacy Saturday at a ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Japanese Olympic Committee.

"Today, Japan is recovering from the tsunami and earthquake and we want to have the 2020 Olympics as a symbol of the recovery," said Takeda.

Tokyo, which lost out to Rio de Janeiro in the race to host the 2016 Olympics, was not discouraged by the South Korean city of Pyeongchang winning the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Pyeongchang beat European rivals Munich and Annecy, France, after narrow defeats for the 2010 and 2014 Games.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, who attended Saturday's ceremony, said Thursday the IOC has no formal opposition to hosting successive games on the same continent.

Rome and Madrid have officially declared bids for 2020 and Istanbul is expected to do so as well.

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 again in Nagano in 1998.

Rogge said he was confident Tokyo would make a strong bid.

"Japan belongs to the small elite group of five nations only who have organized three splendid Olympic Games," said Rogge.

The Japanese Olympic Committee has said if Tokyo wins the right to host the 2020 games, regions affected by the earthquake, tsunami and the ensuing nuclear crises could host some events such as soccer.

Tokyo emerged as the sole bidding city for Japan after Hiroshima and Nagasaki — the two Japanese cities hit by atomic bombs in World War II — had expressed interest in a joint Olympic bid. Hiroshima pulled out recently, saying it still had outstanding debts from hosting the 1994 Asian Games.

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, the driving force behind the 2016 bid, said his government would provide full support.

"There is no point in bidding if you don't win," said Ishihara. "The Tokyo metropolitan government will give blood, sweat and tears to provide money and facilities."

Several major international sporting events in Japan were canceled because of a nuclear crisis triggered by the earthquake and tsunami, but Japan's Olympic Committee vowed that would not influence a potential Olympic bid.

A North Korean official, meanwhile, has expressed hope that his country could co-host the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics with South Korea.

North Korean International Olympic Committee member Chang Ung made the comment last week after arriving in Tokyo for the regional Olympic committee meeting, Yonhap news agency said.

South Korean presidential spokeswoman Sohn Jie-ae told reporters Wednesday that Seoul isn't considering co-hosting. "Our bid was not for a joint Winter Olympics with North Korea," she said.

Pyeongchang is in northeast South Korea near the demilitarized zone that separates the two nations. Its province was cut into North and South Korean sides after the 1950-53 Korean War.

The head of South Korea's main opposition party said earlier this week that he favored allowing North Korea to co-host the 2018 Olympics. His comment came days after the ruling party agreed to push for a joint team of athletes from both Koreas at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Yonhap also quoted Chang as saying military and political tensions between the Koreas should ease so they don't impact the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Animosity between the rival Koreas remains high after the North bombarded a South Korean island last year, killing four people.

The countries haven't fielded a joint Olympic team or co-hosted a major international sporting event before. But their athletes marched together at the opening of the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics.

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