The Australian Olympic Committee has hailed slain former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe as a great friend to the global sporting movement.

The Victorian government is also paying tribute to the 67-year-old by way of a light show in Melbourne.

Mr Abe was shot and killed while campaigning near a train station in the Japanese city of Nara on Friday. A man was arrested at the scene.

AOC President Ian Chesterman praised Mr Abe as a dear friend of the Olympic movement and said the success of the Tokyo Games during the COVID-19 pandemic was a tribute to his leadership and perseverance.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Mr Abe,” Mr Chersterman said on Saturday. 

“The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were such a triumph, giving hope and inspiration to so many around the world.” 

IOC Vice-President John Coates worked closely with the then prime minister in his capacity as chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Games.

“Without Shinzo Abe’s commitment, the decision to postpone the Games by one year in the face of the global pandemic would simply not have happened,” Mr Coates said.

“All of the athletes of the world who participated in the Tokyo 2020 Games are forever indebted to him.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said Melbourne would be lit up to honour Shinzo Abe on Saturday night.

“Major landmarks in the city will be red and white to remember the life of Japan’s longest serving Prime Minister,” he said on Twitter.

Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said Mr Abe was a visionary leader in the Indo-Pacific and “a champion of a freer and more open world”. 

“At a time when the world needs strong, visionary leaders more than ever … Mr Abe’s loss will be sorely felt across the globe,” she said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese led Australia’s tributes on Friday, saying Mr Abe was one of the nationa’s closest friends and most like-minded partners.