TOKYO - Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday Tokyo could be an inspiration for other cities if it wins the right to host the 2020 Olympics, after becoming the first in Asia to get the Games in 1964.
Promising his government's fullest support for Tokyo's new Olympic bid, Abe told inspectors from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that hosting the Games was his "life-long dream".
"Tokyo, 2020, will inspire many others, just as Tokyo did before in 1964," the conservative premier said at a reception welcoming a 14-member team from the IOC evaluation commission.
The team, led by IOC vice president Craig Reedie of Britain, started four days of scrutinising Tokyo's Olympic blueprint and inspecting existing and planned facilities for 2020.
It will visit the other candidates, Madrid and Istanbul, later this month before drawing up a technical report on the three bids for the 101 IOC members who will vote to choose the 2020 host on September 7 in Buenos Aires.
Abe, a former archer who heads the national archery federation, said "the Olympic spirit was the same spirit with which Japan grew to its height".
"And yet, in Asia, in 1964, Japan was a lone industrialiser," he said. "So for the Japanese, the Olympic spirit became a mission that we must help the rest of Asia to grow."
Abe's grandfather Nobusuke Kishi, who was prime minister from 1957-'60, also helped invite the 1964 Games to Tokyo when Asia started moving forward after World War II.
The IOC team, including six voting IOC members and several advisers, is tasked with checking "Candidature Files" submitted by the three cities in January on 14 themes including infrastructure, finance, and political and public support.