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  • Race for 2020 - Baku, Tokyo Polls; Madrid Presents Bid Team; Istanbul On Track


    Tokyo 2020 president Tsunekazu Takeda at Monday's press conference (Tokyo 2020)
    (ATR) Nationwide polls for the bids from Baku and Tokyo reveal significant differences in public support at this early stage of the 2020 Olympics bidding contest.

    The Azerbaijan bid released figures Monday touting 95 percent national support for Baku's second effort to land the summer Olympics.

    Tokyo announced results of a poll today that showed 80 million Japanese support its campaign to secure the Olympics - a more impressive headline figure than saying 65.7 percent of the country's 127 million population back the bid.

    The new polls come two weeks after Rome 2020's first nationwide survey that put public support at 74 percent.

    Ahead of the IOC's Feb 15 deadline for applicant files from the six cities in the race for the 2020 Olympics, the backing for Baku is a major moment for the bid.

    Results of the Baku survey carried out in December also showed 93 percent of the 1,000 respondents agreeing that hosting the Games in Baku would have a positive impact on the country's sporting development.

    “This poll confirms what we believed – that the bid enjoys wholehearted support, all the way from the president of the country to the very youngest children in the school playgrounds," said Baku 2020 bid CEO Konul Nurullayeva.

    "The bid is also enthusiastically supported by our National Olympic Committee and our sports federations, our business community and the citizens of Baku.”

    Nurullayeva said the bid was about more than simply asking the Olympic Movement to allow Baku to host the Games, but also a chance for the country to fulfil its sporting potential. “Azerbaijan has a very young population – more than 50 percent are under the age of 30. With this bid, together we can develop, inspire and empower millions of young sportsmen and women – together we can also accelerate the development of team sports as well as introduce new sports into the country," she added.

    Encouraging Start for Tokyo

    Tokyo's survey, conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, polled 4,000 respondents from across Japan and was carried out online and by telephone Jan. 7-9.

    The 65.7 percent figure is billed as an encouraging start by the Tokyo bid, which is targeting a 70 percent nationwide support for the 2020 campaign after struggling to win public backing in the 2016 bidding competition.

    “Our bid for the 2020 Games has only been underway for a few short months, and we have not yet made public the details of our plans. Despite this, however, we have still managed to garner a 65.7 percent support rate for the bid,” said Tsunekazu Takeda, Tokyo bid president and head of the Japanese Olympic Committee.

    The polling figures are included in the file that Tokyo 2020 will submit to the IOC next month.

    "I am sure that this will send a clear message to the IOC that the whole of Japan is united in its efforts to ensure that Tokyo’s bid for the 2020 Games is successful," he added. "We plan to publicly release the details of our bid once our file has been submitted to the IOC, and I am certain that this will lead to a further rise in the domestic support rate.
    Spanish IOC honorary member Pilar de Borbon joins Madrid mayor Ana Botella and bid president Alejandro Blanco at a photocall with the bid team (Madrid 2020)

    Madrid Presents Bid Team to Mayor

    Madrid 2020 held a closed-door meeting with the city's mayor, Ana Botella, at Palacio de Correos Monday. Around the Rings is told that it was an informal breakfast organized by the city council to present the bid team to the mayor for the first time.

    The bid is led by Spanish Olympic Committee chief Alejandro Blanco; bid CEO is Víctor Sánchez. There were no speeches and no media access to the event.

    Botella, who will be heavily involved in Madrid's third consecutive summer Olympic bid, was joined by honorary Spanish IOC member Pilar de Borbón at the breakfast meeting.

    The Madrid 2020 team will be formally presented at an event to launch the bid's logo and website next Monday. It is scheduled for 11am at the Spanish Olympic Committee's offices.

    Istanbul On Track

    The Turkish bid for the 2020 Olympics is focusing all its energies on completing its applicant city file with just three weeks before it is due with the IOC.

    Istanbul leaders promise a "very exciting and very different concept" from the city's previews four Olympic bids. ATR is told that the bid's new website and logo will be launched soon after the bid submission to the IOC.

    The Turkish government has also moved quickly to nix reports that it is considering a bid for the UEFA Euro 2020 championships after narrowly missing out on Euro 2016 to France.

    "All our energy is focused on the 2020 Olympics," Turkey's sports minister Suat Kılıç said.

    His comments came after rumors in Turkish media that UEFA president Michel Platini had promised Euro 2020 to Turkey. But UEFA has since strongly denied that Platini issued any such comment.

    Doha Eyes Women's Sports Development

    Doha's 2020 bid is receiving a boost from Qatar’s first ever conference on Women and Sport: From Past to Future that kicked off Sunday.

    The three-day conference at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha has brought together international experts and academics from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Syria, UAE and Europe to discuss women’s contribution to sport and the challenges they face from an Arab Countries countries’ perspective.

    Noora Al Mannai, CEO of Doha’s 2020 bid, said she was looking forward to learning from some of the leading authorities on women in sport in the Middle East.

    "Getting more girls and women to participate in sport in the region is important and with innovative thinking, new investment and a commitment to embrace change, real progress can be achieved. This is one of the main ambitions of our 2020 bid," she said. “If Doha was to be given the honor of becoming the host city for the Games in 2020, this would represent a major boost to the development of women’s sport in the Middle East. It would be a real legacy for the region."

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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