(ATR) The smallest field in years for the Summer Olympics will compete for the 2020 Games.
Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid will go on as candidate cities following a secret vote by the IOC Executive Board meeting in Quebec at SportAccord.
Members of the Doha 2020 delegation applaud the IOC shortlist despite their exclusion. (ATR)
Eliminated from the race are Baku and Doha.
The EB used the findings of a report by technical experts as the basis for its decision.
“We had a long ranging discussion,” EB member Richard Carrion tells Around the Rings.
He says scheduling of the Games in October and a clustering of events to avoid the heat in Doha made it difficult for the EB to approve this second bid from Qatar. He says this would cause issues for broadcasters. The IOC report noted that there was a risk October Games in Doha would become a “weekend Olympic Games” with fewer people watching.
Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group, told ATR several hours before the announcement that he didn’t want to speculate on how NBC would deal with an October Olympics if Doha advanced.
“We’re not involved in the process,” he said. “We’re a spectator in this process and we don’t get between the bid cities and the IOC. That’s amongst them."
The initial reaction from Doha bid vp Almayassa Al-Thani? "This has been a rumor for the past two days. We’ve heard it and we anticipated anything. We were here, we did our best. We’re very committed to the Olympic Movement. We’re very committed to sports development, so I think the two countries that were eliminated are emerging markets and I think it’s a missed opportunity for the IOC,” she said.
Leaders of the Baku 2020 bid remain stonefaced in the moments after the announcement. (ATR)
Baku, with extensive infrastructure needed “came up short in many, many areas” noted Carrion, who says the choice to cut Doha was “more difficult”.
Sports Minister Azad Rahimov expressed his disappointment with the loss, the second early exit for the Azeri capital.
“Small cities, they'll not have a chance for the future Games. I don't know what's going to happen. We will try to seek more events. We will go for the next bid. We're really on the position to continue,” he said before uttering a deep sigh.
The IOC report calls the Japanese bid “very strong”. The venue plan is called “very compact” and that “travel times would be reasonable”.
Masato Mizuno, CEO of the bid says Tokyo has learned from its past campaign for the 2016 Games.
Tokyo's delegation meets the press after the announcement. (ATR)
“Actually we kept the best and improved the rest because this is the second time,” he said.
Concern was expressed for the lack of interest in the bid as evidenced by public opinion survey that showed a large percentage of the population expressed no opinion about efforts to land the Olympics.
Istanbul, making a fifth bid for the Games, was praised in the IOC report for plans to put sport “at the center of its young people’ future and presents a clear vision and concept for the 2020 Games with venues in Europe and Asia, separated by the Bosphorous.
The IOC report says venues are “spread out” and that “some aspects of the plan would need to be refined to improve the athlete experience”.
NOC president Ugur Erdener (middle left) and VP Hasan Arat (middle right) hoist the Turkish flag as NBA star Hedo Turkoglu (third from left) towers over. (ATR)
IOC member from Turkey Ugur Erdener dismissed the possibility that there is a conflict with plans to seek the 2020 Euro football championships.
"Olympic and Paralympic Games for 2020 is the first priority of my country, for our government. There are not any problems concerning this subject. It's a unique idea for our young generation,” he said.
The IOC says hosting both events would present “significant risks”.
Madrid was noted as “a very strong technical project” and as “a catalyst to boost economic development”.
Carrion says that despite the recession and economic woes faced by Spain, the amount of work already done to prepare venues and infrastructure mitigates the hardship it faces.
Mayor Ana Botella takes the lead for Madrid in the announcement's euphoric aftermath. (ATR)
IOC member from Spain Juan Antonio Samaranch says the Olympics would be catalyst for making life better for his country.
“If the IOC needs some reason to go somewhere, there is a very good reason to come to Madrid, that it would invigorate the society in a part of the world that is in crisis, which is southern Europe."
The three cities now advance to the candidate city phase, allowed to use the Olympic rings as part of their logos.
Each will be allowed to send a team of observers to the 2012 Olympics in London.
The cities will need to prepare formal bid books due early in 2013 when international promotion will be allowed.
The IOC vote for the 2020 host takes place Sept. 7 next year at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires.
Written and reported in Quebec by Ed Hula, Karen Rosen and Matthew Grayson.
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