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September 15, 2000
Osaka challenges Beijing's 2008 Games ambitions
The Japanese city of Osaka on Friday pressed its claim to stage the 2008 Olympics against current favourite Beijing, saying it could outdo the Chinese capital in experience and facilities.
Osaka Mayor Takafumi Isomura said the city had staged many international sports events and already had three-quarters of the facilities needed for the Olympics, as well as boasting a well-developed public transport system.
"We know that China has never had the Olympic Games in the past and we understand that there are people that favour Beijing's bid because of this reason," he told reporters in Sydney.
"I feel the Olympic Games should be held in the city which is best prepared at that given time and we feel that, as far as 2008 is concerned, we will be better prepared to host the Olympic Games."
The International Olympic Committee last month included Osaka on a shortlist of bidding cities, along with Beijing, Istanbul, Toronto and Paris.
Isomura said the city believed it would have to invest up to $2.1 billion to stage the Games, with about $745 million reserved for the remaining facilities.
Osaka, which will host matches in the 2002 soccer World Cup being staged jointly by Japan and Korea, is promoting itself as a "sports paradise", with shared facilities for elite and grass-roots events.
The bid team said key Games venues would be sited on three man-made islands on Osaka Bay, named The Olympic Islands, and that nearly all sports could be staged within a 20-kilometre radius.
They are also hoping the Olympics could bring their city out of Tokyo's shadow, arguing that while the Japanese capital might be the country's political centre, the Osaka region could claim to be a cultural and economic hub.
"In fact, this area is the cradle of Japanese culture," Isomura said. "By welcoming the Olympic Games in Osaka, Japan will be showing a different face...from Tokyo, to the rest of the world."
The IOC will announce the winning bid next July at a congress in Moscow.
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