Strengths and weaknesses of 2020 Olympic bid cities
People hold a poster promoting Istanbul's candidacy to host the 2020 Games during a visit of the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission and of the Turkish National Olympic Committee at the Telekom Arena Stadium in Istanbul on March 24, 2013. (AFP Photo / Ozan Kose)
Published Tuesday, September 3, 2013 2:49PM EDT
PARIS-AFP - The host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics will be voted on by the 100+ International Olympic Committee (IOC) members in Buenos Aires next Saturday.
AFP runs the rule over the three candidates' strengths and weaknesses (in the order they make their final presentations to the IOC members):
The fifth time they have bid but this one bears no comparisons to the previous four. This has been a dynamic, innovative and emotional candidature led with great elan by the charismatic successful businessman and former professional basketball player Hasan Arat. IOC members love the term legacy and Istanbul provides that as it would be the first predominantly Muslim country to host the Games. "The Olympic Movement can open the door to a new culture," Arat told AFP in August. "It can bridge Olympic culture to new culture. A new bridge to historical impact, with 8000 years of history the Olympic Movement is not just giving the Olympic Games to a city - they (the IOC) would be giving hope, trust and peace to a region." Full government support also lends weight to their bid.
Memories still linger of the heavy-handed manner the Turkish government reacted to anti-government protests which according to police estimates saw some 2.5 million people in June take to the streets in nearly 80 cities for three weeks to demand Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's resignation. Five people were killed and more than 8,000 injured in the civil unrest. The popular protests in Brazil during the Confederations Cup by people angry at money being invested in sporting events - the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro - instead of public services has also made some members nervous of giving a second successive Summer Games to another developing country. Transport too may prove a concern.
A safe and secure pair of hands to host the Games, there is no doubt that they would not give the IOC too many sleepless nights in terms of preparation or organisation of the Games. Have taken on board advice since the failed 2016 bid and made massive improvements resulting in stronger popular support and a much more compact and unified bid. "In these uncertain times Tokyo will offer certainty," their bid president Tsunekazu Takeda told AFP in August. "Tokyo 2020 will be a safe pair of hands and much more. Tokyo is the safest city in the world and provides financial stability." On a more emotional level the bid says that by hosting the Games it will help to heal the wounds left by the massive quake and tsunami that killed nearly 19,000 people in Japan in 2011. "The Bid process - and ultimately having the chance to host the Games - is helping Japan heal and re-unite after a difficult 2011," Takeda told AFP in an interview in November, 2012.
The fallout from the tsunami which has seen radioactive groundwater leak outside the nuclear plant of Fukushima, confirming long-held suspicions of ocean contamination from the shattered reactors, will weigh on members minds even if it is as Takeda said 250km away from Tokyo. Their lack of passion leads many to query do they either really want the Games or are they complacent and expect the vote to be a simple coronation. "We are not a passionate people on the outside," is the reply. Have not been helped either by unsavoury remarks made by both the Governor of Tokyo Naoki Inose and former Olympian and now Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso for which both then apologised. They will need to be on their guard in the final week of lobbying as any similar gaffes could prove decisive.
Their resilience despite the dire state of the Spanish economy was rewarded when a superb technical presentation to the IOC members in Lausanne in July changed many members perceptions about them and gave them the momentum which propelled them into potential winners. The majority of the stadia are built - thanks to keeping their promises from two previous bids for the 2012 and 2016 Games - and infrastructure is already in place. "If there has been progress made it is Madrid," said veteran IOC member Dick Pound after the presentation. "Their presentation has won them points. Last time with Rio it changed the course of the race, this time a little bit." Latest economic data also suggested there is light at the end of what has been a very long and dark tunnel. Activity in the eurozone's fourth largest economy shrank by 0.1 percent in the April-June period compared to a 0.4-percent drop in the first quarter of the year. As to whether they still have enough left in the tank their dynamic international chief executive and two-time yachting Olympic gold medalist Theresa Zabell has no doubts. "What do you do in the final stretch? You sprint, and we have a lot of energy left."
Despite the latest economic data that factor will still dog members thoughts about potential problems lying ahead should perish the thought the economy not improve. Also some wonder how Madrid can improve on their presentation in Lausanne where the appearance of the heir to the Spanish throne and former Olympian Crown Prince Felipe had the desired effect on the members. "How can you better that? They will need another card up their sleeve for the final presentation," one IOC member said.