Japan takes Osaka’s defeat like good sports


TOKYO, AFP

Japan was gracious in defeat Friday as the city of Osaka went out in the first round of the vote to host the 2008 Olympic Games, congratulating Beijing on its victory.

“Harsh as I may sound, the result was largely anticipated,” said Gentaro Taniguchi, a leading Japanese sportswriter.

“Istanbul can muster organised votes from Islamic countries but Osaka can not.”

He attributed Osaka’s defeat to its competition with Beijing for Asian votes and a lack of firm support from the central government.

A report by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) evaluation committee in May also raised doubts over the bids from both Osaka and Istanbul, favouring Beijing, Paris and Toronto.

The Japanese government, meanwhile, expressed support for Beijing’s staging of the 2008 Games.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said in a statement: “It is extremely regrettable that Japan’s eagerness to host the Games in Osaka was not reflected in the votes of the IOC members.

“From now on, our country will extend maximum possible cooperation to the Chinese government to help make the Olympics in Beijing a success,” the statement said.