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Volume 6 No. 196


The Tokyo 2020 bid committee, "fueled by the twin catalysts of top-down organizational enthusiasm and strong financial backing," is seen by many "as the clear favorite to be awarded the 2020 Summer Olympics," according to Ed Odeven of SPORTS ON EARTH. Madrid and Istanbul "are the other two finalists." Madrid's bid "is impacted by Spain's severe economic problems," like 27% unemployment. The London Guardian reported Friday that Spain's under-25 unemployment "now stands at an alarming 56.1 percent, second in the European Union to Greece's 62.9." Istanbul's bid "likewise is affected by rising tensions, fears and anxiety in the Middle East as the Olympic vote draws near." Turkey's neighbor Syria "is embroiled in a civil war, facing the possibility of U.S.-led airstrikes in retaliation for chemical weapons attacks that reportedly killed more than 1,400 civilians." Does that "make Tokyo a guaranteed winner for the 2020 Games?" Of "course not, history has taught us." There "have been several surprise winners over the years," including the 2012 Games, for which London topped Paris 54-50 in the second and final round of voting in '05. Tokyo's "robust financial status puts it on par with London and New York among the world's financial headquarters," a fact the bid committee points out "repeatedly in press releases and newsletters" (SPORTS ON EARTH, 9/4). XINHUA reported Japan Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda "defended Tokyo's bid" to host the 2020 Olympics. Takeda: "Tokyo is extremely well positioned. With the organization and funds guaranteed, we will focus on those extras that help promote the Olympic spirit around the world. Our strength lies in our responsible organization" (XINHUA, 9/5).

MAKING THEIR CASE: REUTERS reported Tokyo's Olympic bid team "dangled dollar signs in front of the IOC, with a vow to leverage Asia's massive marketing potential were it awarded the right to stage." The Japanese "attempted to play a trump card in the face of a Fukushima crisis threatening to derail their hopes." While Tokyo "focused on finances, Istanbul placed athletes at the centre of its bid, promising them an unrivalled experience, and Madrid highlighted its support and backing at home." While Tokyo "spoke of the economy and benefits of unlocking Asia's potential, Istanbul bid chiefs spoke of their city's history." Turkish IOC member Ugur Erdener said, "Imagine being a marathon runner crossing continents over the Bosphorus Bridge, a triathlete racing alongside Istanbul's 2,500 year-old city walls or a volleyball player spiking for the match with the Bosphorus at your back." Madrid, meanwhile, "emphasised the broad popular support it is getting from Spaniards, citing an August poll which showed 91 percent of them now support Madrid's bid, up from around 80 percent earlier in the year" (REUTERS, 9/5).

DISASTERS APLENTY: The AFP reported fears over radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant and fall-out from the civil war in Syria "are hanging over Tokyo and Istanbul's attempts to host the 2020 Olympics, amid suggestions that third candidate city Madrid could benefit." The '11 meltdown at the plant 220km from Tokyo, which followed "a devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 18,000, could still be a deciding factor in the vote." Hamburg University Sports Economics Professor Wolfgang Maennig said that the "brutal civil conflict" in Turkey's neighbor Syria, which has seen more than 2 million people flee the country, according to the United Nations, "could also sway members away from choosing Istanbul." Maenning said, "To my astonishment, it seems like it's going to be Madrid. I talked today to the president of a national (Olympic) federation and people are still afraid of Syria and even Iraq, even though that was years ago, affecting Turkey. There are also many concerns about the level of radiation in Japan" (AFP, 9/5).

SYRIA OPPOSITION: In Sydney, Jacquelin Magnay reported Australia IOC Exec board member John Coates "is facing opposition from an unlikely source" -- Syria -- in his quest to become IOC VP. Coates "is standing for the single vice-presidential vacancy after electing not to contest the IOC presidential election" on Sept. 10. But "he faces a late rival for the influential post after Syrian IOC member Samih Moudallal submitted a surprise last-gasp nomination, despite the civil war pulverising his country." Moudallal, a former adviser and secretary to the Speaker of the Syrian parliament, and general secretary of the parliament, told fellow IOC members he should be elected to the vice-presidential role to help the IOC "support human rights and supporting refugees all over the world" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/6).

MEDIA COVERAGE: BERNAMA reported nearly 1,300 reporters, photographers and cameramen are in Buenos Aires to cover the IOC's 2020 Games host city selection. The IOC will also select a new president and add a new sport to the athletic program (BERNAMA, 9/5).

NEW SPORTS: The World Squash Federation delegation that will present its case to join the 2020 Olympics is in Buenos Aires this week. Squash is one of three sports being considered by the IOC for inclusion in the Games (WSF). The other sports being considered for inclusion are baseball/softball and wrestling (SBD Global).

KEEPING HER POST: R-SPORT reported pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva "will not be stripped of her symbolic role as an ambassador of the Youth Olympics following controversial comments" in favor of Russia's law against “gay propaganda.” There "is no appetite within the IOC to punish Isinbayeva by removing her symbolic ambassador post" (R-SPORT, 9/5).

Madrid Community Government spokesperson Salvador Victoria revealed in an economic impact report that hosting the 2020 Olympics "would mean the creation of 50,000 full-time jobs for Madrid," according to AS. Victoria said hosting the Games would have "an impact" of €2.5M ($3.3M) on the regional GDP and "attract more than 800,000 additional tourists," with an estimated cost of €625M ($820M). The economic impact reported indicated that "Madrid would benefit the most from the IOC's decision on Saturday" and that jobs would be created starting from the first minute." The projected job creation "would equal 2% of the Madrid Community's total employment." The sections that would "be helped the most by hosting the Olympics would be construction, hospitality, professional services, retail, technical services and transportation." Victoria said that the 800,000 additional tourists "would visit the city leading up to and following the Games" (AS, 9/5).

MADRID WELL-REPRESENTED: In Madrid, Almudena Rivera reported that all Spanish athletes who have "traveled to Buenos Aires have a clear message: Madrid deserves the Games and the IOC will choose the Spanish project this time." In addition to the "athletes who made the trip, Spain's Education, Culture & Sports Minister José Ignacio Wert, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Cooperation José García-Margallo and Minister of Industry, Energy & Tourism Minister José Manuel Soria are also traveling to Buenos Aires." Various "presidents of Spanish athletic federations and 180 [Spanish] journalists" will also attend the IOC's decisive meeting (MARCA, 9/5).

BID RECEIVING RECORD SUPPORT: Also in Madrid, Gerardo Riquelme reported Madrid on Wednesday "reached a historic level of popular support after revealing that 96% of Spaniards outside Madrid support the city as the host of the 2020 Olympics." That number "drops to 91% in the Madrid Community and to 83% in the city itself, motivated by the inconveniences of hosting such an event." The level of Spanish support outside Madrid exceeds the 91% and 85% approval Spain indicated in '12 and '16, respectively. This "expresses the excitement that the possibility of hosting the Games means for the country." Spanish Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco said, "The responsibility does not increase because we have been accepting responsibility from the start, but it is marvelous to see that people are so excited" (MARCA, 9/5).

DECISION COULD SPEED CONSTRUCTION: Also in Madrid, D.G. Medina reported La Liga side Atlético Madrid "is not neglecting for one second the construction of La Peineta, which will be the team's new stadium within the next few seasons." In any case, Atlético is "anxious to learn the IOC's decision." If Madrid is chosen to host the 2020 Olympics, "the construction will have to speed up." It will be "key to have La Peineta finalized as early as possible for the Olympics" (MARCA, 9/5).

PRINCESS ARRIVES IN ARGENTINA: LA AFICION reported Spanish Princess Letizia arrived in Buenos Aires on Thursday to add herself to the Spanish delegation promoting the Madrid 2020 bid, which her husband, Prince Felipe, is leading (LA AFICION, 9/5).

The IOC warned India Thursday that "it would remain suspended from the movement until it agreed to exclude tainted officials from office," according to the AFP. The IOC has been trying to persuade the Indian Olympic Association "to amend its constitution to prevent officials who face corruption or other criminal charges from standing for election." Suspension from the IOC "means India does not receive funding from it and Indian officials cannot attend Olympic events, while athletes are barred from competing in the Olympics under the national flag." The IOA, which has been suspended since December, "has so far agreed to bar only those officials who have been convicted." But following a meeting of its exec board in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, the IOC said that "it would not endorse fresh elections for the leadership of the IOA until it amended an eligibility clause" (AFP, 9/5). The PTI reported the IOA had proposed a compromise formula to the IOC's directive "asking it to bar charge sheeted persons from contesting elections." According to the IOA proposal, "the sanction will apply only to those officials who are convicted and sentenced to a jail term of more than two years." But the IOC "stood firm on its stand" during its exec board meeting on Wednesday ahead of the 125th IOC session. In a statement on its website, the IOC said, "This clause, which deals specifically with the eligibility of members, is key to the good governance of the NOC and needs to be fully accepted before the suspended IOA can proceed with the elections. An official notification of the IOC’s position will be sent to the IOA" (PTI, 9/5).

'NOTHING NEW': The PTI also reported Indian Sports Minister Jitendra Singh backed the IOC's decision to stick to its stand on the chargesheet clause "and urged the IOA to incorporate the required amendments in its constitution so that the interest of country's sportspersons do not suffer." Singh said, "There are certain issues IOC is insisting on. One of the major ones is ethics and good governance. So, I hope better sense prevails and the IOA incorporate some of the changes, which the IOC has suggested. I don't think there should be a problem in incorporating these changes because it is a part of the Olympic Charter. It is nothing new that the IOC is saying" (PTI, 9/5). IANS reported two-time Olympic Medalist wrestler Sushil Kumar feels that the suspended IOA "should accept the terms and conditions." Kumar said that "charge-sheeted officials should stay away from the administration of Indian sports and IOA for the sake of Indian athletes." Kumar: "The IOA should accept all the terms and conditions set down by the IOC for the sake of Indian athletes. When the whole world is accepting the IOC charter, why shouldn't we? What is the harm in keeping out charge-sheeted individuals?" (IANS, 9/5).