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BBC Sport's Guy de Launey
"Osaka is making an effort to stand out"
 real 14k

Thursday, 1 March, 2001, 17:04 GMT
IOC's Osaka tour raises questions
Osakas artificial Maishima island
The articial island is one of Osaka's selling points
Olympic inspectors have said they were impressed by Osaka's bid to host the 2008 games, but expressed some concerns over access to some of the proposed sites.

The International Olympic Committee evaluation team finished a four-day tour of the Japanese city on Thursday.

"Two-thirds of the sports infrastructure required for the Games already exist and is of extremely high standard," said Hein Verbruggen, who headed the IOC team evaluating Osaka's bid.

"But transport and access to these islands at the time of the Olympic Games will be very, very crucial."

Verbruggen's team arrived in Japan's second largest city on Sunday after visiting rival bidder, Beijing.

Inspectors examined 26 facilities, outdoor courses and pitches for 24 sports, including planned venues on the man-made island of Maishima.

"Now I believe that they have found out that Osaka is better than they had expected."
  Osaka mayor Takafumi Isomura on the IOC inspection
The city faces tough competition from frontrunners Beijing, Paris, and Toronto, as well as Istanbul.

Osaka's bidders, using the slogan, "the first Olympics at sea", are keen to emphasise the city's high level of safety.

They are also highlighting the fact that the majority of Olympic facilities have already been built.

"After visiting Beijing, the favourite, they came to Osaka, probably wondering what it is really like," Osaka mayor Takafumi Isomura said.

"Now I believe that they have found out that Osaka is better than they had expected."

Big plans

The main stadium and the Olympic swimming pool still have to be built on Maishima, while the Athlete's village is planned for another island next to it.

The central government has promised to cover half the proposed building costs, which are estimated at 139bn yen (over 800m), according to city officials.

The major events including athletics, football and swimming, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, will be held on the artificial island.

Hawaiin-born sumo wrestler Musashimari helps to promote Osaka's Olympic bid
Sumo star Musashimaru welcomes the IOC delegation
The media, along with the athletes, will be situated on the adjacent islands.

Most of the stadiums are approximately within 30 minutes of the athletes' village by bus, and athletes can enjoy a 20-minute waterfront walk to the 80,000-seat main Olympic stadium from their village.

The farthest are the football stadiums in Yokohama and Saitama, the sites for the World Cup finals to be co-hosted by Japan and South Korea next year, some 220 miles from Osaka.

Osaka is the second city to face inspection by the IOC team, following its visit to Beijing last week.

The committee's report will play a key role when the 120-plus IOC membership votes to decide the winner in Moscow on 13 July.

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22 Feb 01 |  SOL
Beijing bid hit by smog
19 Feb 01 |  Other Sports
Beijing cleans up for IOC
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