TOKYO: The IOC will have to deal with yet another new governor of Tokyo in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics after the weekend election of a first woman to the role in Yuriko Koike.
The former Defence Minister, running as an independent, won a decisive victory with more than 2.9m votes in Sunday’s election. Both her predecessors resigned over funding scandals.
The 64-year-old, in words to reassure mostly her fellow citizens but also the International Olympic Committee, said: “I will lead Tokyo politics in an unprecedented manner, a Tokyo you have never seen.
“While feeling the weight of this result, I want to thoroughly push the metropolitan government forward as the new governor.”
Although Koike is a member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party it did not endorse her candidacy in an election blighted with negative campaigning.
Long-time former governor Shintaro Ishihara, the father of the local LDP federation chairman, had warned voters: “We cannot leave Tokyo to a woman with too much make-up.”
Ishihara was governor when Tokyo bid, unsuccessfully, to host the imminent 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. His overbearing approach was considered to have cost Tokyo more votes than it ultimately won.
Sunday’s election had been called after previous governor Yoichi Masuzoe resigned last month amid fierce criticism over allegations that he used official funds to pay for holidays, art and comic books for his children.
Predecessor Naoki Inose also quit over a funding scandal in 2013 soon after Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 summer Olympics. Preparations have been dogged by a bid cash scandal, overspending claims, new stadium confusion and promotional design plagiarism.