Discuss Japan > Back Number > No.17 > Special Feature — Win with Diplomacy! The Art of War for a Country that Cannot Fight
Successful lobbying and presentation helped bring the Olympics to Tokyo
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No.17 ,Society  Nov 25, 2013

Special Feature — Win with Diplomacy! The Art of War for a Country that Cannot Fight
Successful lobbying and presentation helped bring the Olympics to Tokyo

Behind the success were well-calculated tactics, not to mention impressive speeches by Tokyo bid committee members.

Tokyo has been chosen to host the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. First of all, I salute this brilliant achievement from the bottom of my heart.

The outcome of the vote by International Olympic Committee (IOC) members belied all speculation, as Madrid, which was seen as the favorite candidate city and the one that would closely compete with Tokyo, was quickly eliminated. It looks as if people suddenly felt deflated, because Madrid had been rumored over the preceding several weeks as being quite likely to win European Union support, which would lead to a majority of the IOC members voting for the Spanish city.

TAMAKI Masayuki, Sports Commentator

TAMAKI Masayuki, Sports Commentator

It is widely speculated that Paris, which is aiming to host the 2024 Games, was reluctant to select its neighbor (Madrid) for 2020 because of its ambitions for the following Olympics.

There are briefly three key factors with respect to Tokyo’s bidding success:

  1. Teamwork
  2. Lobbying efforts
  3. Brilliant consultants

As viewers must have seen on TV, Tokyo’s sophisticated approach to making its final presentation clearly embodied great teamwork. Tokyo’s presentation began with the appearance of Princess Takamado. She was followed by Paralympic long-jumper Sato Mami, who handed the baton to Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, followed by Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki, Takeda Tsunekazu (IOC member), Mizuno Masato (bid committee CEO), Takigawa Christel and other speakers. The well-coordinated flow of the presentation was indeed a fine example of teamwork.

Traditionally, Japanese tend to interpret teamwork as group behavior, and they often find comfort in such behavioral patterns as waking up at the same time as their coworkers, sharing the same food as one another and gathering together at the same places. However, if everybody behaves in this way, good team play is not possible, just like it will not make a soccer game if every player plays forward. You need to have forwards as well as backs moving up and down the field with mutual coordination. In that sense, the smooth and sophisticated flow seen in the presentation speeches by the Tokyo bid committee members was magnificent.

Tokyo won IOC members’ hearts through an appealing final presentation with, firstly, the moving speech by Sato, who regained her confidence thanks to sports after losing her leg to a disease.

Brilliant consultants played an outstanding role

Sufficient lobbying can be cited as the second reason for the successful bid. When Tokyo lost out to Rio de Janeiro four years ago for the 2016 Games, and this time again until recently, Japan’s IOC lobbying efforts were unsuccessful.

When it comes to lobbying in the international arena, cold, hard cash is often what counts most. In a way this is a matter of common sense. Japanese generally feel such conduct is shameless and tend to be reluctant about lobbying.

Whether it is true or not that big money did in fact play a vital role this time around (informed sources speculate this happened), it is quite clear that Japan’s lobbying of IOC members was effective. A substantial number of people confirm that.

According to sources close to France’s sports ministry, Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Shimomura Hakubun visited Paris just before the vote and arranged for France and the IOC members with whom it has a strong influence to vote for Tokyo in return for Japan’s support for Paris’s bid for the 2024 Games.

Thomas Bach, a German and at the time of the vote a candidate for the next IOC presidency, and who was attempting to promote his country’s candidacy for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, was also reported to be equally reluctant about neighboring Madrid’s selection. Taking advantage of this situation, Japanese IOC member Takeda is said to have strongly asserted to Bach that Tokyo was the optimal and ideal place to host a problem-free first Olympics under Bach’s presidency. Naturally, Bach must have been strongly swayed by the option of making the 2020 Tokyo Olympics successful as his first job as IOC president. This episode also represents Japan’s successful lobbying efforts.

Of course our opponents made some mistakes. Spain’s leading newspaper, El Mundo, reported before the vote with photos and names of IOC members that “Madrid has already secured a 51-ballot majority!” It seems that most members felt discomforted by this and thus avoided voting for Madrid.

Tokyo did indeed benefit from its opponents’ mistakes and the international climate, but activities for promoting the candidacy, including presentations and lobbying, were carefully prepared and planned so as to achieve optimal results. Behind the successful results, highly competent consultants played a pivotal role. This was the third factor behind the success.

Among others, NickValley, a highly competent consultant who helped to bring the Olympics to London and Rio de Janeiro, is said to have again played a major role. His advice produced an ideal outcome in the delivery of outstanding speeches. His technique was superb in letting the athletes express their innermost passion. It was even a kind of grandstanding.

The speech delivered by Sato was perfectly scripted to touch anyone’s heart. Beyond that, the posturing shown during the speech was a product of the consultant’s advice. Her eyes’ expression, a slight pause and hesitation, her shaking voice with emotion welling up; none of these occurred by accident, rather they were the result of a well-rehearsed performance.

Fencer Ota Yuki was even advised on how to blink. He was advised a number of times to blink when coming to a key phrase in his speech.

Moreover, everyone was requested to without fail place a fist on his or her chest while talking. In western countries, this body language implies “from the heart” or “promise,” representing an essential part of the pose coaching.

The word “legacy” was intentionally used in key parts of speeches since this keyword is favored by IOC President Jacques Rogge, who has used it to represent the Olympics’ raison d’être. Inose used the word twice in his speech. Abe also used it twice and Mizuno used it once in their closing pitches.

The urban infrastructure put into place in Tokyo for the 1964 Olympics is aged half a century later, and large-scale repairs are necessary. The expression “three-trillion-yen economic effect” barely scratches the surface of the vast significance of this event that will ensure implementation of an underground expressway system, construction of a third airport, 24-hour bus and train operation, greening of the entire city and creation of a thorough barrier-free urban environment. Tokyo will definitely metamorphose into an entirely new city.

Sports will be at the center of all these changes!

For the 1964 Olympics, since developing medalists was a priority, some athletes were sent to Japan Self-Defense Force training schools and university sports programs. Sports were not expanded to common people and the majority of the population did not have the opportunity to experience the joys that can be acquired from them. However, thanks to the Olympics, physical fitness tests were introduced, but what had been grenade hurling was replaced by softball throwing and the former Japanese military pull-up exercises, back-hip circle on a horizontal bar, and vaulting horse were reintroduced. But from that point on, the number of Olympic medalists fell year after year.

Recently, however, rapidly growing sports such as swimming, gymnastics and soccer have not seen their growth at school gymnasiums but in private sport clubs. Amid such an environment, scandals related to punishment, a remnant of the old order of physical education sports clubs, came to light. The 2020 Tokyo Olympic victory came at a time when measures were being introduced for banning the use of punishment or violence in sports.

This signifies an entry into a new era. The time has come when everybody should freely enjoy sports instead of the vertical structure of school physical education. From such an expansive opening a high pinnacle can be reached. A new structure for sports will definitely take place thanks to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The question is, however, if the Olympics will succeed in bringing about change with this new era. Everything hinges on the good or poor management of the Fukushima nuclear power plant crisis, as well as on preparation for an imminent large-scale earthquake.

It is true that the Tokyo Olympic victory has brought along a mountain of tasks that Japan must complete. Meanwhile, it has become increasingly clear what options Japan should take as it moves forward.

Our parents and grandparents came a long way trying hard to overcome the same challenges. We must not back away.

Translated from “Gaiko de kate! ‘Tatakaenai kunino —‘Robiikatsudo to Purezen de Kachitotta Tokyo Gorin” (Special Feature — Win with Diplomacy! The Art of War for a Country that Cannot Fight — Successful lobbying and presentation helped bring the Olympics to Tokyo)’’’; Shincho 45, October 2013, pp. 66-67. (Courtesy of Shinchosha Publishing ) [October 2013]

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