October 2, 2009 / 11:13 AM / 8 years ago

Tokyo urges IOC to think green for 2016 Games

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Tokyo made an impassioned plea on behalf of the planet on Friday, promising International Olympic Committee members a Games in harmony with nature if they were awarded the 2016 Olympics.

“Tokyo is well positioned to serve as a future model of public safety and environmental sustainability,” newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told IOC members.

“In Tokyo everyone will witness human endeavor thriving in harmony with nature.”

The IOC will choose between Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo in a vote after the four presentations.

Tokyo were given a tough act to follow, after President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had both spoken on behalf of Chicago.

In a marked change of tone, the Tokyo bid talked up the significance of the venue for Friday’s presentations and vote: the same Bella Convention Center that will host the United Nations climate change conference from December 7-18.

“It is symbolic you choose the same venue as the UN climate change conference,” Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara told the IOC members. “The outcome today could be as significant as theirs.”

Governor Ishihara had sounded a warning earlier in the week that the 2016 Olympics could be the last Games because of global warming.

That theme was immediately taken up on Friday as Tokyo began their presentation with a speech from young gymnast Resa Mishina, who said she represented future Olympians.

“There are worries there won’t be many people who want to play sport, or many places to play it,” she said.

“That’s why your decision is so important. Please choose a city that demonstrates a commitment to our future.”

Tokyo tried to allay concerns that a relative lack of public support and passion could count against them. They countered that with a series of dynamic speeches in English and French.

Tokyo is the only one of the four bidding cities to have hosted a Games before, back in 1964.

“We feel we have done Japan proud,” bid chief Ichiro Kono said at a news conference after the presentation. “We had more than 100 million Japanese hearts with us.”

Koji Murofushi, a gold medalist in Athens in 2004 and a member of the Tokyo bid team, said they could not have done more.

“I am a hammer thrower and today I threw in everything,” he told reporters. “Everyone did. More than 100 percent.”

Editing by Paul Radford and Alison Wildey

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