Olympic Host Candidates For 2020 Games Madrid, Istanbul, Tokyo Make Pitches To IOC
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).