Tokyo Public Servants Tango to Buenos Aires for Olympic Bid

Posted on Sep 4, 2013 in News, Stories about Japan |

It’s a bit late for summer vacations, but a group of Tokyo civil servants has booked tickets to Buenos Aires to cheer on thecity’s bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics–paid for by themselves and with donations from colleagues, and using their own holiday time.

About 40-50 Tokyo Metropolitan Government employees plan to depart Wednesday or Thursday ahead of the Sept. 7 International Olympic Committee’s announcement of the winning city, according to a metropolitan government official.

The Tokyo workers will take six or seven days of annual leave time and travel on packages offered by three travel agencies. The packages will cost between ¥230,000 ($2,300) and ¥280,000, all inclusive. How much each participant will put toward their own expenses beyond donations from colleagues wasn’t clear, the official said.

The metro government’s sports bureau asked each other bureau to put forward one or two staff members to join the tour, although it wasn’t mandatory. If no applicants were forthcoming from the bureaus, workers in the general affair bureau would go instead.

Whether the whole effort will achieve its intended purpose is uncertain. The travelers are separate from Tokyo’s official Olympic bid team, meaning they won’t be able to enter the venue of the IOC announcement. Rather, they will have to watch the final presentations by the three candidate cites–MadridIstanbul and Tokyo–and the final ballot count via a public screen.

Four years ago, a group of metro employees made a similar trek to Copenhagen to support Tokyo’s bid for the 2016 games. But the final voting results failed to appear on the outdoor screen. That left the metro workers to find out Tokyo had lost via phone calls and e-mails from colleagues back home.

That trip was known as the “bullet tour” because of its relatively modest cost (¥80,000) and extremely tight schedule–four days of travel including flights, with only two days and one nights actually in Denmark.

This time, however, the itinerary should be more relaxed, with more downtime for the would-be cheerleaders.

“They aren’t on official duty,” the metro government official said, adding that some of the applicants seemed to look upon the trip as belated summer vacation. Other than activities related to the Olympic decision, “they can enjoy watching tango in Buenos Aires,” he said.