Tokyo picked to host 2020 Summer Olympic Games
BUENOS AIRES — Tokyo has been chosen by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2020 Summer Games.
In voting Saturday in Buenos Aires, the committee picked Tokyo over the two other contenders, Madrid and Istanbul.
The announcement came at 5:20 a.m. Tokyo time, but a large crowd watching on an outdoor video screen burst into cheers.
Tokyo previously hosted the Summer Games in 1964.
Japan’s bid for 2020 billed the city as the safe choice — despite radiation leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally made a presentation to the committee and promised an effective cleanup.
Tokyo’s bid came in at $5 billion to $6 billion, compared to $19 billion pledged by Istanbul, said Ed Hula, editor and founder of aroundtherings.com, which covers the business and politics of the Olympic movement.
But Tokyo’s government has already amassed a $4.9 billion Olympic fund to pay to prepare for the Games, Hula said. And a $1 billion national stadium that will be used for the athletic events and the Opening Ceremonies will already have been built for the rugby World Cup in 2017 and is not considered an Olympic expense.
Turkey would have been the first Muslim country to host the Games, and with a median age of less than 30 years, one of the youngest.
Istanbul would have been “a more emotional choice,” Hula said. But its huge bid would have been needed to fund infrastructure improvements, including modernization of its transportation system.
Turkey’s border with Syria also might have troubled some committee members, he said.
And this summer, the image of Turkish sport took a hit when about three dozen athletes tested positive for drugs, he said.
Tokyo led after a first round of voting Saturday but fell short of a majority. Istanbul and Madrid tied for second, and a 49-45 tiebreaker vote put Istanbul in the final runoff with Tokyo.
Tokyo won the final vote, 60 to Istanbul’s 36, according to an IOC tweet.
Madrid, like Tokyo, was a repeat bidder — making its third consecutive case for the Games, one that was little changed from previous attempts, Hula said.
The Spaniards’ $2 billion bid said they had little need for new infrastructure, he said. And they have ample sports experience, having hosted a number of other high-profile, international events.
But the country’s economic plight remained a drawback, with one out of four adults unemployed. Though Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted that rate is improving, “the fact is that most reasonable, sensible economists think unemployment is going to linger at a high level for years to come,” Hula said.
And Spain’s athletes, too, have had issues with doping accusations. In a case that occurred several years ago, blood bags from athletes who had tested positive were destroyed, Hula said. “It’s been a long-running situation.”
The 2016 Summer Olympics will be in Brazil. The Winter Olympics will be held in Russia in 2014 and South Korea in 2018.
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