(ATR) Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike says she held “fruitful” discussions with Rio mayor Eduardo Paes in preparation to receive the Olympic flag.
Paes and Koike pose for the press (ATR)
Koike arrived in Rio this morning and will be here through the closing ceremony on August 21. She will spend the next three days observing the end of the Games readying herself for when Tokyo becomes the next Summer Olympic host city.
Elected 20 days ago as governor, Koike finds herself about to be the center of the world’s attention. Koike is a familiar face in the international sporting world, as she serves as president of the Japanese Weightlifting Federation.
She will receive the Olympic flag from a leader who put himself as the face of the Rio 2016 Games. Paes has been ever-present in Rio’s preparations after a 2012 shakeup of the Games’s “matrix of responsibility” shifted many organization duties to the city from the federal government.
Koike told reporters at a press conference that she had been “training,” herself for the moment, and wants to show the world Japanese hospitality. Koike has told reporters previously she wants to use the 2020 Olympics “to build for a new Tokyo beyond 2020.”
“I have been in a meeting with Mayor Paes and we talked about the perpetration and operations of the Games; it was very fruitful and it was very important as well,” Koike said to reporters. “We believe that Rio and Tokyo must be in a close partnership. We want to make 2016 Rio a major success so that Tokyo 2020 will also be a great success.”
Koike was seen as the most conservative candidate for the Tokyo governor election, and in her remarks pledged to keep costs down for the Games. She said she will work to ensure the Games are cost efficient and contain no white elephants, even as the IOC just added five new sports to the Tokyo program.
“Looking towards 2020 we would like to it to be not a very expensive event; we want it to be sustainable,” Koike said. “I hope Japan will receive all visitors and present Japanese hospitality, and the Games will not become a white elephant in Japan.”
Koike spoke to reporters in a traditional white kimono. Mayor Paes, in his typical jovial matter, lamented he was not dressed as a sambista to represent Carioca culture. The mayor said it was a “great honor to be succeeded,” by Tokyo in the Olympic movement. He also said that he expected IOC members to be happy to get away from the “Latin flavor of the Brazilians which make members a little crazy”.
“The Olympics are an amazing opportunity for the city, but I know Governor Koike will be a great leader through this process,” Paes said. “Relations between Brazil and Japan are very strong. We are very close friends, and I know now Rio and Tokyo will be closer than ever before.”
Written by Aaron Bauer in Rio de Janeiro
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