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Kano Jigoro

Tokyo's bid for the 12th Olympic Games of 1940 (2)

What was the logic of Kano around this time? Since the Olympics, which had once been limited to the Greeks, were restarted in the modern age with the aim of spreading participation throughout the world, Kano thought the Games should not only belong to Europe and the United States but must also be staged in the Far East. He also felt that out of all the candidates, Japan was one of the most enthusiastic.

At that time, air travel was still not very advanced. In order to reach Japan from Europe, it was necessary to make the trip by boat or via the Trans-Siberian railway, requiring almost 20 days in either case. For the Europeans, the idea of sending athletes to Japan must have seemed unthinkable. Many of the IOC members at the time were opposed to the idea on the grounds that it would be too time-consuming and costly.

Banquet to welcome IOC President Count Henri de Baillet-Latour to Japan in 1936.

Banquet to welcome IOC President Count Henri de Baillet-Latour to Japan in 1936.

However, Kano utilized this same argument in reverse to push his own case. He said that since Japanese athletes had consistently participated in the Olympics since 1912 in spite of such distances, it shouldn't be such a great effort for European and American athletes to gather in Japan; rather, doing so would help transform the Olympics from a European and American event into one of a global nature. He skillfully utilized the other side's logic to reinforce his own argument. You could say he displayed the spirit of judo by using his opponent's strength against him.

In the vote conducted at the Berlin IOC Session in July 1936, Tokyo beat off the challenge of Helsinki by 36 votes to 27. Kano said the following at this session: "My 27 years of Olympic activity since becoming an IOC member have finally borne fruit. Now, the Tokyo Olympics must be an example to the world and the Olympics must use this opportunity to become a part of global culture." In an interview given to the American media, Kano said that the Tokyo Games would be smaller than the Berlin Olympics, reasoning that competing in terms of scale would have harmful effects. The idea of a compact Olympics already existed at this time.

Kano Jigoro in the International Olympic Committee

Kano Jigoro in the International Olympic Committee.