The outspoken Ishihara has been a mainstay of Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 Olympics, along with its current drive to see off competition from Istanbul and Madrid to land the 2020 Games. The 80-year-old announced his resignation on Thursday as he seeks to start his own national political party. “As of today, I will resign as Tokyo Governor,” Ishihara said at a news conference. “I’m planning to return to national politics. I want to do so by forming a new party with my associates.”
Tsunekazu Takeda, Tokyo 2020 and Japanese Olympic Committee president, praised Ishihara’s support for the city’s Olympic aspirations, but maintained its bid remains in a strong position to succeed. “Governor Ishihara has demonstrated strong leadership for Tokyo’s Olympic and Paralympic aspirations ever since Tokyo’s race for the 2016 Games, and he has been a fervent supporter of Tokyo’s efforts to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games as well,” said Takeda.
He continued: “Tokyo’s bid is supported by every different level of the Japanese society, from local and national governments, to the sport community and across all business sectors. We are confident that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will continue providing support for the bid and that Governor Ishihara’s resignation will have no impact on our campaign. With his enthusiasm remaining with us, Tokyo 2020’s bid effort remains focused on providing the best possible stage for athletes. Over the next 11 months, we will continue to work closely with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to win the right to host the 2020 Games.”
The announcement of the host city for the 2020 Games is set to be made at the 125th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina on September 7. The IOC announced last month that its Evaluation Commission would make Tokyo its first port of call from March 4-7, before moving onto the Japanese capital’s two rivals.