Tokyo 2020 hope London 2012 heroes parade marks upturn in public support for bid
Monday, 20 August 2012
August 20 - Leaders of Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics today vowed to turn the huge outpouring of emotion for Japan's team that competed in London 2012 into concrete support for its campaign to bring the Games back to the Japanese capital for the first since 1964.
A crowd of half-a-million flag-waving cheering fans brought downtown Tokyo to a standstill as Japan's Olympic team toured the city during a victory parade on London double-decker buses.
The convoy of five buses caused gridlock as fans and shoppers in Tokyo's Ginza district help celebrate Japan's record haul of 38 medals, made up of seven gold, 14 silver and 17 bronze, at London 2012.
People working in offices above street level leant precariously out of windows to cheer as the athletes navigated through a vast sea of supporters in Japan's first Olympic celebratory parade of its kind.
Attended by 71 of the country's 76 medallists in total, the athletes, sporting their red Olympic jackets, waved as fans crammed the pavement in sweltering summer heat and screamed their names and messages of congratulations.
Athletes carried placards in support of the northeast region of Japan devastated by last year's deadly earthquake and tsunami.
Some of the biggest cheers were reserved for the Japanese women's soccer team, who took the silver medal in London after their stunning World Cup success in Germany last year.
Japan's "Nadeshiko" team - named after a frilly pink carnation - had come to embody the spirit of a nation battling to recover from the tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis.
The convoy of vehicles were adorned with Tokyo 2020 logos, and Japanese Olympic Committee President (JOC) Tsunekazu Takeda promised the country would push ahead with its proposed bid.
Tokyo's unsuccessful bid for 2016 suffered from poor public support and there are fears that the campaign for 2020 could be hit by the same problem.
But there signs that Japan's performance at London 2012 could mark a turning point for the bid.
"The parade was amazing!" said Sayori Okazaki, a 15-year-old who is a fan of Kohei Uchimura, the gymnast who won the men's all-round individual gold medal in London.
I watched the entire Olympics, even when it was past midnight!
"I would love for Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympics!
"I will support the Games in any way I can!"
Shozan Oota, another onlooker, expressed similar sentiments.
"This parade was wonderful with so many people!," said the 18-year-old.
"I didn't miss a single minute of the London Olympic Games.
"It will be awesome if Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics.
"I'm a track runner myself so I'll try my best to compete in 2020!"
Takeda, who was elected to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), during London 2012, is optimistic that the parade marks an upturn in public support for Tokyo 2020.
"The heroes' parade was an extraordinary display of Japan's passion and the remarkable power of sport to unite and inspire. Japan is an incredible sporting nation and holds its athletes - and Olympians in particular - in very high esteem," he said.
"The unprecedented performance in London makes us even more determined to deliver a dynamic celebration in the heart of the world's most forward-thinking city."
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