London mayor Boris Johnson has sent “huge congratulations” to Tokyo in being named as the host of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In a tight race Tokyo was named as host city by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Buenos Aires, ahead of rivals Istanbul and Madrid.
The Japanese capital won by 60 votes to 36 in the final round of voting against Istanbul – a comprehensive victory which came despite some IOC members expressing concern over leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant, 150 miles away.
Mr Johnson said: “Huge congratulations to Tokyo for winning the honour of hosting the greatest sporting spectacular on the planet.
“I am sure that, like London, your great city will put on an extraordinary event. This is a magical moment of celebration to savour before the years of hard work ahead.
“Staging the Olympic and Paralympic Games is a tremendous privilege that unleashes golden opportunities for the host city.
“London has seen its transformative effect having embedded from the outset a long lasting legacy that reaches far beyond the weeks of sporting drama.”
British Olympic Association spokesman Darryl Seibel said: “We congratulate our friends in Tokyo and are confident that they will do a excellent job hosting the Olympic and Paralympic games in 2020.
“We also congratulate our colleagues and friends in Madrid and Istanbul on the quality of their bids.
“It is a reflection of the importance of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games to have three world class cities compete for this honour.”
Tokyo, which hosted the Games in 1964, had campaigned with the message that “the Olympics will be safe in our hands”.
However, it was acknowledged in July that contaminated underground water had been flowing into the Pacific Ocean since soon after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima plant in 2001, knocking out its power and cooling systems and causing three reactors to melt.
Recent leaks of radioactive water from storage tanks have added to fears that the plant’s operator, Tepco, is unable to cope.
It was heartbreak for Spanish sports fans as Madrid, which had failed in its bids to host the last two Olympic Games, was knocked out in the first round of voting, leaving Tokyo and Istanbul in the final head-to-head.
Istanbul, for a long time the front-runner in the race, has suffered a series of blows in recent months – beginning with the political protests on its streets earlier this summer, some of them over proposed Olympic venues, followed by a doping scandal, the jailing of political opponents and journalists, and now the looming war in neighbouring Syria. Istanbul had almost the perfect sales pitch until then, talking of the first Games in a predominantly Muslim country and a meeting of east and west.
Both Tokyo and Madrid pledged to spend a fraction of the cost of the London 2012 Games.
Financial concerns have become the background to this race, especially with worries over the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and next year’s winter games in Sochi being the most expensive ever. Madrid 2020 boasted 80 per cent of its venues are already in place and a construction budget of just £1.3bn – London’s comparable cost was £9bn.
Tokyo’s cause was helped in no small way by the presence of Cambridge-educated Princess Hisako of Takamado, and a bravura performance in its final presentation by Paralympic athlete Mima Sato.
Princess Hisako, the first member of the Japanese Imperial family to have ever addressed the IOC, delivered Tokyo’s opening speech of the presentation and pushed all the right buttons.
Dame Zaha Hadid, who designed the Aquatics Centre at London 2012, has already been earmarked to redesign the Kasumigaoka National Stadium, which is set to be the main stadium for the 2020 Games.