Mayor of London says 2020 "Olymposceptics" will be proved wrong

Oct. 16, 2015




BCCJ members and guests heard from Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, at an afternoon reception "Olympic Lessons Learned", yesterday.

Mr Johnson, who is visiting the Japan this week, spoke about London's experience of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.

In good humour, he addressed his enthusiastic tackling of a Japanese school boy during a game of Street Rugby in Tokyo's Nihombashi area just hours earlier, which has since attracted international media attention.  "We have just played a game of street rugby with a bunch of kids and I accidentally flattened a 10-year-old, on TV unfortunately. But, he bounced back, he put it behind him, the smile returned rapidly to his face. That is my theme tonight - the possibility that confidence can suddenly and unexpectedly return."

Mr Johnson went on to describe how in the lead-up to the 2012 Games, "Olymposceptics" had enjoyed creating a mood of gloom around the global sporting event. This lifted, he said, once the Games began. "For about a month Britain was crop-dusted with serotonin and the Games themselves were utterly spectacular."

So far, the Tokyo 2020 Games have been dogged by controversy, particularly regarding the cost of the host city's new national stadium, which has recently been sent back to the drawing board. Allegations of plagarism surrounding the event's logo design have helped to sour public opinion towards the Games. Mr Johnson said he was he was confident that any scepticism around the games would eventually be dispelled.

London 2012 did not pass without a hitch, he confided. American athletes were driven to South End instead of the Olympic Village, a bridge on the M4, a key transport link, was condemned and "thousands of security guards failed to turn up for work." But in the end the 2012 Games were hailed as a great international success and, he said, had left London with a "strong physical legacy."

The Mayor also explained, stimulating a round of applause, how tourism had received a massive boost from London's role as host city. "All this has meant that, for the second year running, London is the most visited international destination on Earth, with 18.8 million people visiting last year."

He painted a picture of the transformation of London's East End and highlighted some post-Games investment still to come related to the Smithsonsian and Victoria and Albert museums. "There's been investment on colossal levels and it's intensified with the sprouting up of cranes around the city."

He went on, "Much of this investment is from Japan and it's a sign of the importance of the UK-Japan relationship. People could be mistakenly led to believe that our focus has shifted to elsewhere in Asia. But a measure of the closeness between London and Tokyo is that the electronic security for London tube trains is run by a Japanese company - Fujitsu. Also, there are more cars made at one Japanese factory in Sunderland than in the whole of Italy." The Mayor also noted how the former BBC offices in White City are set to be redeveloped by BCCJ member company Mitsui Fudosan.

Looking back on this trip to Japan, he described his visit to British stores in Osaka and Tokyo which were proving popular with customers, and paid to tribute to the "symmetry, fusion and the way ideas cross-fertilize between the UK and Japan."

Returning to the topic at hand, the Mayor said he was confident Tokyo would deliver a memorable Games. "I hope our expertise in London will be useful to you. It will be a triumphant Games; just as the sceptics were wrong in London they will be again. The world will come to Japan in ways not seen before."

The Olympics and Paralympics in the 21st century support not only sports exchange, but also diplomatic and economic relations.

In closing, Johnson referenced the post-Olympic baby boom that London had experienced in 2013, with a nod to Japan's ageing population. "We had 136,000 live births in London! May the fourth arrow of Abenomics be Cupid's arrow," he said, wryly.

After his speech, Mr Johnson participated in a traditional 'sake biraki' (sake barrel breaking ceremony) before spending time greeting BCCJ members, invited Japanese guests, and students from the British School in Tokyo.

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The event was co-hosted with the ACCJ.

Thanks to BCCJ Corporate Plus member EY, without whom the sake biraki could not have been possible.

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More photos from this event can be found on the BCCJ Flickr Page HERE

BCCJ EVENTS HERE