- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TOKYO (AP) - Members of the International Olympic Committee’s evaluation team arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday to begin a four-day inspection of the Japanese capital’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

The IOC’s 13-member evaluation team will inspect proposed venues as well as the city’s transport system, hotels and infrastructure.

Tokyo organizers say their bid offers the most compact games, with almost all venues located less than five miles from the main stadium.

“It is a great honor to welcome the IOC’s evaluation commission to Tokyo,” Tokyo 2016 chairman Ichiro Kono said Tuesday. “This week we have a fantastic opportunity to highlight our plans to host the most athlete-focused games in Olympic history.”

Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, says 23 of its proposed 34 venues already exist and that land has been secured for the 11 new facilities.

Five of the new venues would be permanent, including the main Olympic stadium on the city’s central waterfront that would hold 100,000 spectators for track and field events and the opening and closing ceremonies.

Tokyo is also boasting the financial security of its bid amid the global economic downturn. The city of Tokyo has about a $66 billion annual budget and has already secured a $4 billion special budget in cash for the Games.

The IOC will vote on the host city in Copenhagen on Oct. 2. Tokyo is competing against Chicago, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.

With 34 million people, Tokyo is the world’s largest metropolitan area and Tokyo 2016 organizers say residents are getting behind the bid.

“We have a 70.2 percent approval rating and it has been increasing daily,” said Tokyo 2016 communications manager Masa Takaya. “We are sure the committee members will see the passion that Tokyo has for sport and hosting the games.”

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