Two-time fencing silver medalist Yuki Ota (far left) and the Tokyo 2020 bid team

Two-time fencing silver medalist Yuki Ota (far left) and the Tokyo 2020 bid team

2020 Bid Cities

2020: playing the safe card

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Tokyo 2020′s Yuki Ota, a two-time silver medalist in fencing, bounded across the stage and said to the crowd, with enormous energy and enthusiasm, “It is great to be back in St. Petersburg,” where he had competed in 2007. Everyone laughed, and he had them from there as he said, “I can promise that Tokyo 2020 will see your sports shine.”

A few moments later, Jaime García-Legaz, at the lectern for Madrid 2020, tackled the pink elephant in the room head-on — the Spanish economy. His nation’s minister of commerce and international trade, García-Legaz noted that the International Monetary Fund and others project “steady” economic growth for Spain in the next five years, adding, “The fundamentals of the Spanish economy are strong and deep.”

Left to right: ski jump champ Sara Takanashi, Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose, Tokyo 2020 bid president Tsunekazu Takeda, Singapore 2010 Youth Games gymnastics gold medalist Yuya Kamoto

Left to right: ski jump champ Sara Takanashi, Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose, Tokyo 2020 bid president Tsunekazu Takeda, Singapore 2010 Youth Games gymnastics gold medalist Yuya Kamoto

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Tokyo 2020: a search for connection

TOKYO — To say that staff and officials of the Tokyo 2020 bid committee were feeling tense and nervous would be an understatement. On a scale of one to 10, nerves were cosmic. Maybe galactic. This was the first of the three bid-city visits — Madrid and Istanbul come later this month — and Tokyo is a place where things are expected to be done right. As Yuki Ota, a London 2012 silver medalist in fencing would later say about how much he had prep work he had done to meet the International Olympic Committee’s evaluation commission here Monday, “My paper was worn out, that’s how much I practiced.”

The formality of the setting in which the bid committee meets the IOC does not particularly lend itself to easy interaction. Here is the Tokyo set-up, typical of such arrangements: