By Duncan Mackay

Sebastian Coe_Tokyo_February_2012February 29 - Sebastian Coe has urged Tokyo officials bidding for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics to be sure of their message, claiming that that is more important than explaining how they will stage the Games if they are awarded them.

The London 2012 chairman gave the advice to Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara during a visit to the Japanese capital today.

"The point I made was that actually it's as important to understand why a city is bidding for the Games, or why you want the Games, what you want it to do for your city," Coe told The Daily Yomiuri after meeting Ishihara, the driving force behind Tokyo's campaign to host the Olympics for the first time since 1964. 

"It's probably more important to ask that question than how you are going to deliver the Games." 

British bookmakers have installed Tokyo as the favourites ahead of rivals Baku, Doha, Istanbul and Madrid, mainly on the basis that they will earn the sympathy vote following last year's earthquake and tsunami which devastated the country. 

"The IOC (International Olympic Committee) is looking for the most appropriate bid at the time they are bidding," said Coe.

"They are not sitting there creating a template saying it has to go to an emerging nation, or it can't go to a mature nation.

"For IOC members, it's quite obvious at the time."

Tokyo were beaten in the race to host the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics by Rio de Janeiro, a decision few observers disagreed with.

"I think they [the IOC] make pretty good, sometimes bold decisions," Coe said.

"To take the Games to Seoul in 1988, when less than half the world recognised South Korea diplomatically, to take them to Bejing [for 2008], to even bring them to Moscow in 1980...even if some nations chose to boycott, history proved we were on the right side of the argument."

Sebastian Coe_with_Japan_rhythmic_gymnastics_team
During his two-day visit, Coe also took time to inspect the Kasumigaoka National Stadium, the centrepiece of the 1964 Olympics and which is again set to play a leading role if Tokyo are awarded the 2020 Games.

"It's a wonderful stadium and, even under [today's] snow, you have a feel for the type of atmosphere that must have existed in the Tokyo Games," he said.

Coe is too astute a diplomat to be seen publicly backing Tokyo's bid - or that of any of his rivals - but did offer the local media reasons to be feel optimistic while at the same time striking a note of caution.

"It would be wrong of me to do that, because that's not what I'm here for," he said.

"But clearly, this is a country that has a deep and abiding history and interest in the Olympic Movement.

"Some of the biggest names in Japanese sport have emerged through the Olympic Games.

"And this is a city that delivered a wonderful Games.

"This will be an interesting and very competitive round of cities, again with a mixture of old and new."

The trip as officially part of a world campaign to meet young people and to update officials, coaches and athletes on the latest development and preparations for London 2012.

Sebastian Coe_Tokyo
Coe visited the Ajinomoto National Training Centre, a state-of-the-art training facility used by Japan's top athletes, including the first-ever Youth Olympic champion, triathlete Yuka Sato, and the country's rhythmic gymnastics national team - Fairy Japan - who has been qualified for London.

"I have no doubt that the Japanese team will enjoy a warm welcome to the Games from London's dynamic Japanese community as well as from British fans and also from the large number of Japanese visitors we expect to attend the Games," he said.

Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) President Tsunekazu Takeda was left feeling enthusiastic about London 2012 following Coe's trip.

"This has been a major week for Tokyo and Japan," he said.

"It has been a pleasure and true honour to welcome an Olympic legend in Sebastian Coe.

"It was a joy to discuss our mutual commitment to the Olympic Movement, which left me with a strong impression that Lord Coe and his colleagues will stage highly successful Games.

"Together with Team Japan and other leaders of the Japanese sport community, I am greatly looking forward to witnessing the world's greatest spectacle in London this summer." 

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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