News

Three cities submit 2020 Olympic bids

8 January 2013

The three cities hoping to win the right to host the 2020 Olympic Games completed a significant step towards that goal on Monday as they lodged their bid dossiers with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

All three cities sent high-profile delegations to Olympic headquarters at Lausanne in Switzerland, handing over their dossiers which they hope will convince IOC members to vote for them on September 7 in Buenos Aires.

The three candidates are Istanbul, with the most credible of their bids after failing four times previously; Madrid - bidding to make it third time lucky after finishing third for the 2012 and second for the 2016 editions; and favourites Tokyo - who hosted the Games in 1964.

Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul, presented his city's dossier and said it was a historic moment for not only the capital but Turkey as well.

"Istanbul 2020 is the first sports bid in Turkish history to have been officially launched by the prime minister, and it has been identified as a strategic national priority. The Games would enhance Istanbul's growing global status as a place to visit, do business and, increasingly, stage world-class sport.

"We are all aligned behind our shared vision: hosting the Games for the first time would be the defining achievement in nearly 100 years of the Republic of Turkey," added Topbas.

Tokyo, who have made great play on how winning the race would help heal the wounds suffered in the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disasters, said they had learnt much from their third-place finish for the 2016 Games.

"With tremendous support from people in Tokyo and across Japan, we have celebrated a memorable milestone today with the submission of our candidature file," said Japanese IOC member and former international showjumper Tsunekazu Takeda.

"Based on lessons from our bid for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we have retained the best of that bid plan while adding important new strengths.

"Now that our candidature file is complete, Tokyo is one step closer to implementing an innovative and inspiring Games plan.

"The Games in 2020 in Tokyo will offer athletes, spectators and Olympic and Paralympic family members a true once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Madrid handed over their dossier last with mayor Ana Botella among the delegation.

Despite Spain's economic crisis, they have at least 80 per cent their venues already built and Botella said their bid was not just a parochial one but one for the whole country.

"It is a project the whole country is behind and a dream for all Spaniards," she said.

"The proof can be seen in the fact that three levels of government are represented here - the city, the regional and the national."

The next crucial stage for candidates comes in March when the IOC Evaluation Commission - headed by IOC vice-president Craig Reedie - visits each city and submits a report (Tokyo: 4 to 7 March, Madrid: 18 to 21 March and Istanbul: 24 to 27 March), then the trio make a presentation in early July to the IOC in Lausanne. The full IOC will select the host city in a secret ballot in Buenos Aires on September 7.

The 2020 field initially included six candidates, but Rome dropped out when the Italian government refused to offer financial support and the IOC cut Doha, Qatar and Baku, Azerbaijan from the list last year.

Tokyo received the highest praise in an IOC technical report last year which said the Japanese bid presents "a very strong application." Madrid has a "strong application," while Istanbul's project "offers good potential," the report said.

While bookmakers list Tokyo as the favorite, Istanbul holds the advantage of representing a new destination for the Olympics, a key factor in recent host city votes.

The IOC is taking the 2014 Winter Games to the Russian city of Sochi, the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro and the 2018 Winter Games to Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Pirate Irwin
AFP