A message reading "Tokyo 2020 We Believe", made up of 2,020 candles, is displayed at Zojoji temple in Tokyo. Picture: Yuya Shino

Tokyo – Tokyo has welcomed its reported lead at the bookies in the bid for the 2020 Olympics, despite the “jinx” that has derailed such favourites in recent races.

The Japanese capital remained ahead of rivals Madrid and Istanbul midday Friday in odds offered by major betting companies, despite an upsurge of worrying reports about radioactive leaks from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

At noon (5am SA time), Tokyo's bid was 4/6, against 11/4 for Madrid and 3/1 for Istanbul, according to bookmaker Ladbrokes.

William Hill put Tokyo at 10/11, while punters could get 5/4 for Madrid and 5/1 for Istanbul.

Oddschecker, a website that compiles the odds offered by different bookmakers, said Tokyo accounted for about 43 percent of bets on the 2020 winning city, against about 34 percent for Madrid and 20 percent for Istanbul.

“We are pleased that Tokyo is seen as the safe pair of hands and are working hard until the very end of the campaign,” the press office of the Tokyo bid committee said in response to a query from AFP about the city's favourite billing.

“We are not experts on the reports provided by bookmakers, but can affirm that we are have a very strong bid,” it said in a written reply, calling Tokyo a “city with world class infrastructure and transport that will deliver a superb Games for the Olympic Movement in these uncertain times for sport.”

But Japanese media, noting Tokyo has remained the bookmakers' favourite in recent months, has remembered the shocking results of the bids for the 2012 and 2016 Olympic bids respectively won by London and Rio de Janeiro.

“Paris and Chicago, touted by bookmakers as the odds-on favourite in the last two Olympic bids, were rejected,” the mass-circulation newspaper Yomiuri said.

“The worrisome jinx: the favourite cannot win,” said a headline in the tabloid Yukan Fuji. – Sapa-AFP