Bid officials for Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid "made their pitch" for the 2020 Olympics to the IOC on Thursday as the race enters the final stretch, according to Karolos Grohmann of REUTERS. Istanbul, bidding for the fifth time in the last six editions, "highlighted its location at the crossroads between Europe and Asia as it attempts to become the first city from a Muslim nation to host the Games." Turkey Sports Minister Suat Kilic said, "I can assure you hosting the Games is part of a broad agenda for Turkey. We now have the financial strength to host the Games." Tokyo, making its second consecutive attempt after failing to land the 2016 Olympics, "played up its own economic strength as a safe Olympic destination." Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose: "I understand that many people are saying that our bid is the safe option in this campaign. What I don't understand is why some people seem to think that this could be a bad thing." Madrid officials were "eager to convince the IOC of the country's financial clout despite the ongoing recession" and a 27% unemployment rate. Spanish State Secretary for Trade Jaime Garcia-Legaz said, "Spain has the largest growth potential in the next decade among the five most important economies in Europe, thanks to the increasing external competitiveness and the improvement of domestic demand" (REUTERS, 5/30). In Toronto, Stephen Wilson reported "all three cities are repeat bidders." Each said that "they had learned from their previous defeats and improved their bids." Istanbul bid leader Hasan Arat: "In the past, Turkey bid for the games as an emerging nation. This time, Turkey is bidding as an emerged nation." Garcia-Legaz noted that Madrid's infrastructure budget for the games is only $1.9B, "one of the lowest in Olympic history." Istanbul's is $19B and Tokyo's is $4.5B (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/30).
MADRID MAKES ITS CASE: The EFE reported Madrid Mayor Ana Botella said, "There are 100 days left to convince those who have to vote that Madrid is a secure city, secure in the economic aspect." The message of the Madrid supporters is that the city has the majority of the facilities ready, and the €1.5M ($2M) it still has to spend will be shared by three administrations over seven years, a term that works in the favor of the Spanish economy. IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch estimated that Madrid presents "the least financially problematic candidacy in history" (EFE, 5/30).
PUTIN BACKS WRESTLING: In another piece for REUTERS' Grohmann reported Russian President Vladimir Putin backed a return to the Olympics for wrestling on Thursday, saying it was one of the fundamental sports of the Games. In a meeting with IOC President Jacques Rogge, Putin said, "Hopefully, the decision will ultimately be fair, reasonable and will serve to strengthen and develop the Olympic movement, which was based always on ancient tradition, and wrestling as we know, is one of the fundamental sports, traditional for the Olympic Games" (REUTERS, 5/30).
The British Olympic Association's finances were "turned on their head" Thursday after LOCOG announced a £30M ($46M) surplus in its final set of accounts, according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. The BOA had been forecast to make a loss of around £4M ($6M) from its activities in '12, but that was "completely wiped out" by a £5.3M ($8M) payment by LOCOG, whose final report and accounts for the six-month period through March 31 showed revenues of £2.41B ($3.67M) and costs of £2.38B ($3.62M) over its eight-year lifetime (TELEGRAPH, 5/30). In London, James Riach reported LOCOG's accounts also show that £190M ($289M) of government grant funding "was not required, with the organisation balancing the books ahead of its imminent dissolution." Former LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe, who was paid £535,500 ($813,000) during that period, said he was "proud" of the commission's achievements. Coe: "One of our key objectives was to deliver an outstanding Games within a balanced budget and I am proud to say that we have achieved this, thanks to the strong management of our core finances" (GUARDIAN, 5/30).
Russian officials and businessmen "have stolen billions of dollars during the years of preparations" for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, according to Nataliya Vasilyeva of the AP. Former Russian Deputy Prime Minister-turned-Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov and an associate said in a report released Thursday that up to $30B "was stolen in the run-up" to the Games. Russia had originally announced in '07 that the 2014 Games would cost about $12B. Within six years, that estimate went up to $51B, making Sochi "the most expensive Olympics in history." Nemtsov arrived at the figure of $30B by "comparing the initial cost estimate" of the games with the final $51B price tag and with typical cost overruns at previous Olympics. He also "compared the per-seat cost of Sochi's Olympic stadium with stadiums at previous games." Nemtsov said, "We account this irregularity for corruption, fraud, sloppiness and unprofessionalism" (AP, 5/30).
The presentation of the Olympic and Paralympic medals, which will be awarded at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games, took place in St. Petersburg Thursday during the 11th "SportAccord" Annual Int'l Sports Convention. The Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic medals feature the Sochi 2014 "Patchwork Quilt" -- a mosaic of national designs from the various cultures and ethnicities of the Russian Federation. The medals depict the landscape of Sochi from the sun's rays reflecting through the snowy mountain tops onto the sandy beaches of the Black Sea coast. The front of the medal features the Olympic rings. The reverse contains the name of the competition in English, and the logo of the Sochi 2014 Games. The official name of the Games in Russian, English and French is engraved on the medal's rim. The Sochi 2014 Paralympic medals were designed in the same style. One side of the medals features the Paralympic symbol (three hemispheres, "agitos"); the reverse features the logo of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games and the name of the competition in English (Sochi 2014). R-SPORT reported the metal-polycarbonate Sochi medals "were designed by four Russian designers working for the U.S.-based Leo Burnett advertising agency." Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee President Dmitry Chernyshenko said, "I'm sure they will find lots of Russian owners. But I wish all foreign competitors well too" (R-SPORT, 5/30). The AP reported Chernyshenko said that Russia's medal performance will be crucial to the success of the games. Chernyshenko: "We refrain from making medal forecasts, but the atmosphere of the games will be affected by the performance of the team" (AP, 5/30).
Sixteen schools in Castle Point, U.K. have been awarded a £77,000 ($117,086) boost for pupils "to study the history of the Olympics and Paralympics." The Benfleet & Thundersley Interschool Cluster Trust "has been awarded the investment by the Heritage Lottery Fund" (ECHO NEWS, 5/29). ... The Tokyo 2020 bid committee "announced that it will be selling commemorative gold coins" for as much as ¥1.5M ($14,750) in order to raise funds for the campaign. There will be five different types, "made of pure silver, pure gold, or 18-karat gold," and ranging in prices from ¥21,000 ($206) all the way up to ¥1.5M (JAPAN DAILY PRESS, 5/30). ... Nine incumbent officials led by Dr. Kipchoge Keino, who offered themselves for re-election, "returned to office." The status quo may have carried the day in the end, "but even they know that reform is neigh at the National Olympics Committee Kenya" following their bitter elections in Nairobi on Wednesday. Tellingly, officials from athletics and football, the two key sports of the Olympics movement, will not sit in the newly elected NOCK administration "after their flag-bearers were floored during the exercise under protest" (XINHUA, 5/30).