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SBD Global/September 3, 2013/Olympics

Tokyo, Istanbul, Madrid Make Final Arguments For Right To Host 2020 Summer Olympics

An exhibition for the city of Madrid's candidature for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games is seen on Thursday.
The Olympic movement "faces an uncomfortable decision this week on the city to host the 2020 games, amid deep reservations about each of the three candidates," according to Roger Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Government leaders, bid officials, celebrities and sports stars backing the campaigns of Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid "will use their powers of persuasion" to charm members of the IOC at their congress in Buenos Aires, ahead of voting on Saturday. The IOC "has enjoyed vibrant competition for recent summer and winter games," notably for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but not this time. Mike Lee, adviser to the successful London 2012 and Rio 2016 bid campaigns and Doha, which failed to make the 2020 shortlist, said, "It's not been as dynamic a race as recent bidding competitions." With such a small field, "the IOC always risked the scenario of being left with having to choose a least worst option rather than a city with outstanding credentials" (FT, 9/2). REUTERS reported Istanbul is pitching Games on two continents -- the European and Asian parts of the metropolis -- "as Turkey, with its growing economy, hopes to become the first country with a majority Muslim population to get the Olympics." Japan's Tokyo, looking to host them for a second time after '64, "is branding its bid as a safe and solid choice amid financially turbulent times." Madrid, campaigning for the third straight time, "is playing up its high percentage of existing venues, placing sport at the very heart of their bid." The choice the 100-plus IOC members will make, however, "is likely to also depend on non-related Games issues." Istanbul, making its fifth attempt in the last six votes, "was rocked by violent anti-government demonstrations in June that spread to much of the country, shaving off some of the bid's momentum up to that point." Spain "has been in and out of recession since a decade-long property bubble burst" in '08. Tokyo, which failed to land the 2016 Olympics and is seen by some as having a slight advantage over its rival bidders, may be advertising its bid as a solid choice for the IOC, "but the 2011 deadly earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster at Fukushima is still a top news story" (REUTERS, 8/31).

A 'SAFE' BET: KYODO's Dave Hueston reported Tokyo appears by most accounts "the slight favorite against Madrid and Istanbul." Most experts give Tokyo a narrow lead as the "safest" choice among the three in a time of political and economic instability (KYODO, 9/2). The AP reported heading into the final days of the contest to host the 2020 Olympics, "Tokyo is hoping concern over leaks of highly radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant won't damage its image as the safest choice among the bids." Despite the unwelcome headlines, "Tokyo organizers will head to Buenos Aires emphasizing the city's financial security and superior existing infrastructure." Tokyo has an existing $4.5B fund for Olympic construction "and enjoys the support of the national government." Much of Tokyo's infrastructure "is already in place." By contrast, "Istanbul would require the most spending and infrastructure work of the three cities," with a capital budget estimated at $16.8B (AP, 9/2). REUTERS' Elaine Lies wrote "lukewarm support was one of the factors that sank Japan's bid for the 2016 Olympics that went to Rio de Janeiro." The bid committee said as recently as mid-'12 only 47% "were in favor of Tokyo hosting the 2020 games." According to a late August poll by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, though, 74% said that "they supported the games." Another survey, out last month, had 62% support (REUTERS, 8/31).

ROYAL APPEARANCE: KYODO reported Princess Hisako will attend Saturday's general meeting of the IOC "to select the 2020 Summer Olympic host from three candidate cities" (KYODO, 9/2).
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Olympics, Japan, Asia, Europe

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