Devil in the detail for city hopefuls of hosting 2020 Olympics
After years of hard work and extensive lobbying, Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid are soon to find out which takes gold
It is the most compact of the three bids with all the events except for sailing and football in two city zones. Most athletes can reach their venues in 20-25 minutes with sailing supported by a high-speed train. Of the 35 venues, 28 exist.
“Madrid has 80 per cent of the infrastructure in place, which is good,” says the IOC official. “I suppose the negative side of the Spanish bid is the economy and unemployment. But to counter that argument, the games are not taking place now but in seven years time in 2020. A lot of delegates would be thinking that by then Spain will be in recovery.”
All of the bids fulfil the IOC specification, with Tokyo and Istanbul going beyond the stated requirements but politely slapped down by chairman of the commission, Britain’s Sir Craig Reedie.
Istanbul suggested “a dedicated budget of $250 million (€189 million) will be held by the prime minister of Turkey for allocation exclusively to projects determined by and with the IOC and IPC (Paralympic) presidents”.
Tokyo committed to pay for all of the additional National Olympic Committee’s cargo costs. Both were politely declined.
But as Blair demonstrated, few people know what promises will be made or deals done in the lobby wars of the Buenos Aires Hilton over the next few days. Nobody knows what flattery, animosities or friendships IOC members harbour about individuals or countries and other delegates. Or what city the 12 IOC members from various royal families from Saudi Arabia to Luxemburg will vote for or the view of officials like Egyptian Gen Mounir Sabet, whose sister is married to former prime minister Hosni Mubarak.
How will the four British IOC representatives, or Ireland’s Pat McQuaid and Pat Hickey swing. Eclectic political, social and religious opinions don’t begin to cover the complexity of the choreography. Turkey surely won’t get the Israel vote, while more than 40, or over one third of the delegates come from Europe.
“European colleagues don’t always agree,” says the IOC official. “But with a good candidate they will agree and because of the number of European members that could be significant.”
There’s a lot of hope resting on pledges of €2 billion or €3 billion despite Beijing and Athens standing as monuments to national hubris and Olympic folly. But as much as hard currency, the five rings represent intangible concepts such as showcasing the country and all that flows from that. For this €3,000 million is small change.