Screenshot from the 2020 Olympics Tokyo promotional video

I finally took a look at the promotional videos made by the cities vying for the 2020 Summer Games: Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid.

In my mind, Istanbul and Madrid’s Olympic committees focused on the cities, and thus their videos felt like the tourism promotion videos you might see on CNN. My views aren’t too different from those on this Reddit thread.

The theme of the Istanbul is “Shine Bright Like a Diamond”, the lyrics from Rihanna’s song, Diamonds – the mosques in sun and shadow, the sparkling harbor waters, bustling markets, mixed in with image of infrastructure, high-end shopping, and a very occasional sports reference.

Madrid’s campaign video is more comprehensive in what it showed: high speed rail, modern cityscapes and traditional architecture, universities, greenery, music and dance, shopping and nightlife. And there was even a smattering of sports: amateurs playing golf, on bikes, skateboarding, playing basketball, runners.

Tokyo’s theme was “Discover Tomorrow”, thoroughly vague. But the images are clearly on athletes, dominated by competitors at the London Olympics, as well as amateur athletes in Japan, interspersed with iconic locales of Tokyo. You feel the intensity of the athletes and the emotions of the spectators, the animated winged-heart providing a thematic visual throughout the video.

I’m biased I know. But the Tokyo promotional video is the best of the three.

Screenshot from the Tokyo candidate city promotional video.
Me between 1964 Tokyo Olympians, Billy Mills and Andras Toro

One of the biggest sports stories of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics was the come-from-behind sprint by Billy Mills to win the 10,000 meter finals.

For nearly two years, I’ve been hoping to meet the man. And last week, I met Billy Mills!

Thanks to fellow ’64 Olympian, Andras Toro, I enjoyed a couple of hours with Mills and his wife Pat. There’s so much to write about, but let me tell this story first.

On September 7, 2013, the International Olympic Committee gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina to vote on the final three contenders to hose the 2020 Summer Olympics. The three cities up for selection were Istanbul, Turkey, Madrid, Spain and Tokyo, Japan.

A few months prior to the vote, Billy Mills and Pat Mills thought they could not remain silent, that Japan had a special place in their heart, and that if anyone could pull off a great Olympics, it was Japan. They very quickly produced a 1-minute video explaining why Japan should host the 2020 Games. They were not asked to do so, but based on phone calls he received from Japanese government and Tokyo2020 officials, Mills’ endorsement was a tremendous boost of confidence. It may have even played a role in the decision making.

Here’s the video – a rousing endorsement of Tokyo, Japan – from one of the brightest stars of the first Olympics held in Japan.


Of the three cities today that are bidding to host the 2020 Olympic Games, they’re all enchanting, they’re magical. They all could host a very successful Olympic Games. However when you consider the world today, there’s only one city that could truly capture the full potential and the spirit that the Olympic Games has to offer to the world. And that’s Tokyo. My vote? Tokyo, Japan 2020.