Japan's Kosuke Kitajima says Tokyo 2020 would be a 'dream come true'
By Neil Wilkie ,AFPTOKYO -- Japanese swimming great Kosuke Kitajima is hoping a wave of public support will help Tokyo secure the 2020 Olympics as he contemplates the end of his glittering career.
August 21, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The four-time Olympic champion, 30, said it would be a “dream come true” to welcome the Games to his native city, touted as the unofficial favorite ahead of next month's vote in Buenos Aires.
Breaststroker Kitajima, dubbed the “Frog King,” was heavily involved in the Japanese capital's bid for the 2016 Games, when it lost out to Rio de Janeiro.
But some reports say Tokyo, which has sold itself as a “safe pair of hands,” now has the edge over rivals Madrid and Istanbul. The 100-strong International Olympic Committee will make the final decision on Sept. 7.
“Of course I remember what happened last time, but I don't think that the public had as much interest in the Olympics coming to Tokyo then as they do now,” Kitajima told AFP in an interview.
“I think what Japan achieved at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics had a really big impact on the Japanese people. Sport is something real that you can't manufacture, and the results in those Olympics really resonated with the Japanese public.”
After equaling their record gold haul in 2004, Japan maintained their place in the top 10 nations at Beijing 2008 and despite the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, they recovered to earn their highest ever overall medals tally in London last year.
“It has been said that Tokyo is the favorite,” Kitajima said. “The athletes are really promoting the bid and are really involved in it. I see the effort they are putting in, and I would love for it to be successful.