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2020 decisions on the line

3 July 2013

2020: With the voting just over two months away, the bidding for the 2020 Olympics and the race for the IOC presidency are reaching a pivotal stage.

Both campaigns come together this week in Lausanne as the three bid cities and six presidential candidates make vital presentations to the voters - the 100-plus members of the International Olympic Committee.

Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo make their pitches to the IOC assembly on Wednesday, with the Turkish city having the most at stake amid anti-government protests sweeping the country. The presidential contenders present their platforms to the members on Thursday.

Both events could prove decisive going into the final weeks before the IOC session in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, where members will vote by secret ballot for the host city on September 7 and the new president three days later.

The presentations will be made behind closed doors.

Overseeing the proceedings will be IOC President Jacques Rogge, who steps down in September after 12 years in office. He served an initial eight-year term and was elected to a second four-year mandate.

Vying to succeed Rogge are: IOC vice presidents Thomas Bach of Germany and Ng Ser Miang of Singapore, executive board members Sergei Bubka of Ukraine and Taiwan's CK Wu, and former board members Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico and Switzerland's Denis Oswald.

"Basically the most important thing we do is to elect a president," senior Norwegian IOC member Gerhard Heiberg told AP. "It's more important than organising cities for the games. We have many challenges coming ... This person will mean a lot of difference in the IOC, the thinking, the strategy.

Bach has been considered a frontrunner, but favourites don't always win in the unpredictable world of IOC elections.

All six candidates have already sent their campaign platforms to the members. Now the voters will get a chance to see and hear them in person for the first time.

The candidates' platforms have steered away from revolutionary change and centred on common themes: reaching out to youth, stepping up the fight against doping, reviewing the bidding process for the games, and improving the system for selecting sports on the Olympic program.

The 2020 bid cities have been campaigning for nearly two years, but this will be the first time they appear before the IOC assembly and all three are bringing high-ranking delegations.

It was at a similar meeting in 2009 that Rio de Janeiro seized the momentum for the 2016 Games, focusing on the theme that the Olympics had never been to South America and Brazil was an emerging economic force.

Last week, the IOC released a technical evaluation report on the 2020 bid cities. The report did not rank or grade the cities, but Tokyo appeared to come out the best overall.

AP