Madrid 2020 bid officials "played up the city's ready sports facilities while Istanbul highlighted the strength of the Turkish economy" on Tuesday as the cities prepared for this week's pitch to the IOC, according to Karolos Grohmann of REUTERS. Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo will be presenting their cases to the IOC and int'l sports federations at a meeting in Russia, "with the winner elected at the IOC session in September." In reference to the country's financial woes, Madrid Mayor Ana Botella said, "We know about the difficult news coming out (of Spain). But Madrid is a safe choice. We are improving and we are on the right track." Madrid hopes to win over IOC members "as a safe choice given it already has the majority of the venues in place." Bid Chief Alejandro Blanco said, "It is not just about presenting a project or planning it, but it is about realizing this project. We have already 80 percent (of venues) ready." Istanbul Bid Chief Hasan Arat, on the other hand, "held up his country's economic growth as the Turkish city's asset in its fifth Olympic bid in the last six votes." Arat: "We have ensured that our bid is risk-free. It is also the greatest opportunity Turkey has had, given we have bid four times in the past." So far, instability in Syria, Iraq and between Iran and Western powers has barely affected Turkey's fast rising prosperity, even if it has undermined the government's declared policy of "zero problems with the neighbours." The third candidate city, Tokyo, is also trumping its own bid as a "safe choice" and a chance to recover following a deadly earthquake and nuclear disaster two years ago (REUTERS, 5/28).
FILA President Nenad Lalovic said that wrestling expects to make an IOC shortlist of candidate sports for the 2020 Olympics as it "battles to restore its Olympic presence," according to Karolos Grohmann of REUTERS. Lalovic: "We of course expect to be in the shortlist. We don't have guarantees but we will go to compete like on the mat and the best will win." Wrestling would "join seven other candidate sports that will battle it out for the one vacant spot." The eight contenders "will be reduced" on Wednesday when the IOC announces a shortlist after brief presentations from the candidate sports. The IOC "has not said how many will be short-listed." Squash, karate, wakeboarding, rollersports, baseball and softball, wushu and sports climbing "are the other candidates hoping to make the shortlist for the September vote." Wrestling also "received a thumbs-up" from Istanbul 2020 Olympics bid CEO Hasan Arat, who said that wrestling, a national sport in his country, "would be good to have if Istanbul were awarded the Olympics." Arat: "It is important for Turkey" (REUTERS, 5/28).
OPTIMISM ABOUNDS: The AP reported Lalovic said, "I'm confident. A lot of people say to me, 'Oh, you won't face any problem here.' But we'll see. We did everything we could. Nothing else was possible." Lalovic, who replaced Switzerland's Raphael Martinetti as FILA president, "isn't concerned about the plight of the other sports." Lalovic said, "They had two years to prepare. We had three months. We are here because we were not good enough. They have to think about their sport. We don't think about their sport" (AP, 5/28). The PTI reported Indian grapplers "are hopeful of the sport being shortlisted." Wrestling Federation of India General Secretary Raj Singh said, "We are very optimistic about the meeting. We have made necessary changes to make our sport more viewer-friendly. That’s what the IOC wanted us to do" (PTI, 5/28).
Nanjing, China is using the second Asian Youth Games "as an opportunity to gain experience and prepare for the Youth Olympic Games, which it will host next year." The Games will run from Aug. 16-24 and will feature 15 sports and 118 events, with 2,100 athletes ages 13-17 from 45 countries (WANT CHINA TIMES, 5/28). ... Taiwanese Int'l Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) President Wu Ching-kuo has said Chinese officials "fully understand" his bid to lead the IOC and won't oppose it in line with broader policies on the island. Wu said that he was confident that his long personal history with China would make this a case of "sport over politics" (AFP, 5/28).