Madrid, Istanbul, Tokyo Make Their Final Cases As Host Cities For 2020 Summer Olympics
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).