chapter  3
39 Pages

East and West: Confrontational Diplomacy

This study summarizes the rhetorical strategies employed by the Tokyo bid discourse to

assert the alluring features of Tokyo as a candidate. These discursive strategies relied on presenting Tokyo as an alluring embodiment of the tensions between East and West and

tradition and modern. In addition, the Tokyo Bid Committee adopted unprecedented bidding strategies including an all-expense paid trip to Tokyo before the IOC vote on the

1940 host city. Tokyo proponents emphasized that as an Olympic host, Tokyo would help universalize the Olympic Movement and popularize Olympism in Asia. These strategies

would be adopted by later Asian cities of Seoul (1988) and Beijing (2008) in their bids for the Olympic Games. [1]

No one expected Tokyo to win the 1940 Olympic Games in the early 1930s, least of all

the Japanese national government. Rome had been the favoured candidate, given both its proximity to other European nations that dominated the Olympic

community and its earlier cancellation of the 1908 Olympic Games due to the unfortunate volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906. [3] Most members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) believed that 1940 was the year for Rome.

Many believed that nothing short of a miracle could save the Tokyo campaign. After presenting the Tokyo proposal at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games, the

campaign efforts of the Tokyo bid escalated to include more aggressive tactics, including unprecedented diplomatic negotiations with the Premier of Italy and the

Prime Minister of Great Britain. The unprecedented state-to-state negotiations threatened the very authority of the IOC to control all aspects of any decision

regarding the Olympic Games. Despite the fact that the 1935 Japan-Italy negotiations were publicly denounced by the IOC President Count Baillet-Latour as ‘outside

influence’ that ran counter to the tradition of the IOC, the 1936 Japan-Britain discussions were not commented upon publicly by the IOC. The difference in the IOC president’s public commentaries derived from the fact that the personal opinion

and experiences of the IOC president with regard to Japan had shifted. The Tokyo bid

committee employed yet another unprecedented tactic: the IOC president was invited on an all-expense-paid trip to tour Tokyo and Japan in 1936 and returned to Europe

a strong and vocal supporter of Tokyo. Ultimately, the Japanese Olympic state-tostate negotiations, which resulted in the withdrawals of both the Rome and London

candidatures, startled the world, and the Tokyo bid gained instant international visibility and notoriety.