Olympics 2020 candidates out to impress IOC members
Lausanne: The three cities bidding for the right to host the 2020 Summer Olympics had the first of their two presentations to the electorate who will decide their fate, the International Olympic Committee, in Lausanne on Wednesday.
While none of the three - Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo - can win or suffer a fatal blow at the technical presentation, it does give them an ideal opportunity to soothe the IOC members doubts or fears emanating from either last week`s Evaluation Commission Report or recent events within their respective countries.
The decisive vote comes on September 7 in Buenos Aires.
The 2020 Games bid teams from Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo will approach their presentations on Wednesday all in relatively good heart, emboldened by positive assessments by the Evaluation Commission.
Istanbul in particular will be keen their message about being a bridge to different cultures, religions and generations returns to centre stage after an uncomfortable period when mass street protests in Turkey threatened to destabilise the bid.
Their youthful delegation, reflecting one of the thrusts of their bid focussed on a legacy for the youth of the country, is headed by 46-year-old Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, who is in charge of the government`s economy policies.
Madrid - whose delegation will be led by Crown Prince Felipe the heir to the Spanish throne - will have an even greater spring in their step following the Evaluation Commission`s decision to give them the thumbs up over their relatively modest planned budget.
The commission said they were confident that the modest budget of 2.37 billion euros ($3.10 billion, £2.01 billion) for fulfilling the remaining building work was feasible.
"As the additional investment required to deliver the Games is relatively modest, the Commission believes that Spanish economy should be able to support the delivery of the Games," read the report.
"Madrid are very much alive candidate to win the right to host the Games," one IOC source revealed.
"They have 28 of the 35 venues built, the infrastructure is in place and they are running an effective campaign," the source added.
Tokyo, the only one of the three to have previously hosted the Games in 1964, still appear to be the favourites after a glowing report from the Commission but question marks remain over whether their campaign has sufficiently impressed the members.
The report, though, lauded their plans.
Tokyo - who will have Deputy Prime Minister and former Olympic shooter Taro Aso among the delegation - intends to use "the power of sport" to offer hope to the Japanese people and promote national spirit, unity and confidence," in particular after the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the report said.
On the fear of more natural disasters in Japan, the IOC report said the Tokyo bidders had ensured that "robust" anti-quake construction standards and necessary anti-tsunami safety measures were in place