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Japan's atomic cities bid for 2020 Olympics

Hiroshima and Nagasaki are launching a joint bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki hope to use nuclear weapons ban as bait

Hiroshima and Nagasaki are launching a joint bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. 

Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba of Hiroshima and Nagasaki's Tomihisa Taue are founding members of the Mayors for Peace 2020 Campaign, advocating for a global ban on nuclear arms, and they want to use that to springboard the world's largest sporting event into their two cities.

The Japanese cities were the site of the 1945 atomic bombings that closed out the Second World War in the Pacific.

"The Olympics symbolize the abolition of nuclear arms and world peace, and we want to work to realize our plan to host the games," Akiba said.

Hiroshima's mayor spoke last month in Mexico City, saying he firmly believed the world could abolish nuclear weapons by 2020. He suggested his city and Nagasaki could hold the Games that year to celebrate.

The mayors' announcement comes just over a week after Tokyo lost in its bid for the 2016 Games to Rio de Janeiro.

There is no word yet as to whether Tokyo will try for the Olympics again in 2020. Only one city from each country can bid.

Competition for the Games is expected to come from Delhi, Istanbul and Budapest. All three cities have already expressed interest in submitting a bid to host the Olympics.

Although the two cities that the United States dropped nuclear bombs on share a tragic bond, they are quite a distance apart on a map. Hiroshima is in western Japan, about 650 kilometres from Tokyo. Nagasaki is on the island of Kyushu, roughly 320 kilometres from its fellow Olympic aspirant.

Hiroshima has held a large-scale event before, hosting the 1994 Asian Games. The competition brought 7,300 athletes from 42 countries and regions to western Japan.

While the Japanese Olympic Committee praised the two cities for their enthusiasm, they felt that it would take far more than simply a message of world peace to be successful in their bid for the Games.

"The concept to host the Olympics is wonderful," Japanese Olympic Committee secretary general Noriyuki Ichihara said, according to the Kyodo news agency.

"But I believe it would be difficult for the IOC to accept it just on the basis of abolishing nuclear weapons."

With files from The Associated Press

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