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Fukuoka applies to host 2016 Olympics

Written by: Staff

TOKYO, Apr 24 (Reuters) The southern Japanese city of Fukuoka formally joined the country's capital Tokyo today in the race to host the 2016 Olympics.

Fukuoka mayor Hirotaro Yamasaki presented his city's bid proposal to the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), heralding the start of a two-horse race to become Japan's 2016 candidate.

''We are expecting to see a plan of the highest quality that will be recognised as such by the world,'' JOC president Tsunekasu Takeda told reporters.

Tokyo, host of the 1964 Olympics, announced its intention last month and will present its bid to stage the Summer Games for a second time to the JOC on Friday.

Japan's candidate city will be decided on August 30.

Nagoya and the northern city of Sapporo both dropped out of the running earlier this year, citing the enormous costs involved with staging an Olympics.

Yamasaki pledged, however, that Fukuoka could shoulder about 20 percent of the estimated total cost of 15 billion dollar for staging the Games.

''We have been able to lay out a plan to stage an Olympic Games even in a city of just 1.5 million people,'' he told a news conference.

Fukuoka prefectural governor Wataru Aso agreed Fukuoka's location on Japan's southern island of Kyushu gave the city an advantage over Tokyo.

''The whole of Kyushu supports this bid,'' he said. ''Tokyo might be big but we are all behind Fukuoka's push to host the Games.'' Yamasaki said Fukuoka's Olympic Village would be about five minutes away from the sporting venues for about 50 percent of the athletes -- something that Tokyo could not match.

The International Olympic Committee will choose the 2016 host city in 2009.

Apart from the 1964 Summer Games, Japan has also hosted the Winter Olympics twice, in Sapporo (1972) and Nagano (1998).

Reuters PDS VP2056

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