Olympics: 500,000 pack Tokyo streets to hail heroes

Up to 500,000 people lined the streets of Tokyo on Monday to hail Japan's Olympic medallists, organisers said, in a boost for the city's bid to stage the 2020 Games.

Athletes who returned from London with a national record medal haul were lauded as they rode on open-top buses through the capital's upmarket shopping district of Ginza.

The Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) said about 500,000 people crammed into Ginza to get a glimpse of the country's medal heroes, waving, shouting and taking pictures with their mobile phones.

Japan came home from London with seven gold, 14 silver and 17 bronze medals, the country's best-ever showing.

Japanese medallists included gymnastic champion Kohei Uchimura, who won the men's all-around title, and women wrestlers Saori Yoshida and Kaori Icho, who won their third straight Olympic golds.

The huge turn-out -- police did not issue their own estimate of the size of the crowd -- will be seen as a fillip for the JOC, which has struggled with low public support in its bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

Tokyo is up against Madrid and Istanbul for the right to hold the Games.