Three contenders still jostling in the race to host the 2020 Olympics
Next Saturday’s IOC vote will determine whether Tokyo, Istanbul or Madrid is selected as host city
The IOC will be presented with three equally grand candidate dossiers, documented in the 110-page report of the IOC Evaluation Commission, following visits to the bidding cites back in March.
Tokyo is the marginal favourite, with a beautiful Olympic Stadium already being renovated for the 2019 Rugby World Cup; Istanbul boasts Turkey’s bubbling economy and the fact no Muslim country has yet hosted the Olympics; while Madrid, the outsiders, is promoting a budget of just $1.9 billion (London’s public spending came in at $14 billion), which might actually appeal to the IOC’s financial controllers. There will also be three big elephants in the Hilton conference room: Japan’s ongoing issues with the Fukushima radiation leaks, Turkey’s recent riots and proximity to the Syria crisis, and Spain’s slow economic meltdown.
What might ultimately swing the game is the fact the IOC must also vote on two other matters next weekend – which sport gets to compete in the 2020 Olympics (wrestling, baseball/softball or squash), and who will succeed Rogge as IOC president (six men in the running fancy their chances).
The big favourite to replace Rogge, however, is the 59-year-old German Thomas Bach. If Bach gets the presidency he will likely want to bring the 2024 Olympics to Europe, which suggests he’d prefer either Tokyo or Istanbul to get 2020.
But given seven of the previous eight IOC presidents have been European, both Ng Ser Miang (from Singapore) and Ching-kuo Wu (from Taiwan) will feel it’s time an Asian got the gig, the trade-off there being the 2020 Olympics should to go Europe. Then there’s the growing support for wrestling to remain an Olympic sport, which is particularly strong in Asia, and could shift votes towards both Tokyo and Istanbul.
In other words, it’s still all to play for, so tune in next Saturday to see how it all works out.