There was great rejoicing in Tokyo on Saturday as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) tapped the Japanese capital as the site of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
Despite lingering environmental worries due to continuing radiation leakage from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Tokyo edged out Madrid and Istanbul in IOC voting. An IOC executive said that the Japan’s largest city beat out rivals due to confidence that it could meet the challenges of hosting the games, the Associated Press noted.
The other leading cities each came with a set of risks that IOC members ultimately found too daunting. Istanbul was recently the epicenter of large scale riots against the rule of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Madrid, meanwhile, remains mired in Spain’s economic turmoil.
Recent IOC picks have been less dependable locations. The upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics, to be held in Sochi, Russia, have already garnered controversy due to Russia’s new anti-gay legislation and the increasingly authoritarian rule of Vladimir Putin. Rio de Janeiro, infamous for both poverty and crime, is also facing questions about its ability to support the 2016 Summer Games.
Japan’s prime minister may have provided the final incentive to the IOC when he issued a personal promise that the nuclear mess had been contained and that Fukushima would not impact the games in any way.