Today: Last Update:

  • Tokyo 2020 Builds Lead for Summer Olympics


    (ATR) Tokyo strengthens its lead in the latest edition of the Around the Rings Power Index for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Rivals Istanbul and Madrid are tied for second.

    Spurred by improvements in public support and the venue plan, the Japanese capital claimed 77 out of 100 points in the third installment of the 2020 Power Index. Istanbul and Madrid scored 73.

    The index, now in its ninth year, is a measure of the relative strength of the cities seeking the Olympic Games. The index is based on first-hand visits to the bid cities, interviews with bid leaders and experts as well as references such as the just-published candidature files from the three 2020 bidders.

    The bids are rated across 11 categories, nine of them worth 10 points each, two worth five (ambience and last Olympics hosted).

    All three have made gains in their scores since the last edition of the Power Index in June 2012.

    ATR Olympic Bid Power Index - January 2013
    Ambience (out of 5)
    5 (5)
    4 (4)
    4 (4)
    7 (7)
    8 (7)
    9 (8)
    Bid Operation

    7 (5)
    7 (7)
    8 (7)
    7 (6)
    6 (5)
    8 (7)
    Last Games (out of 5)
    5 (5)
    4 (4)
    3 (3)
    7 (6)
    6 (5)
    8 (7)
    7 (6)
    7 (6)
    7 (7)
    Public Support
    9 (7)
    8 (7)
    6 (4)
    6 (6)
    7 (6)
    7 (6)
    6 (5)
    8 (8)
    9 (8)
    Venue Plans
    7 (6)
    8 (8)
    8 (8)

    73 (64)
    73 (67)
    77 (69)

    Tokyo offers the most compact plan for the Games, but with some big projects to build. That includes a $1.5 billion state-of-the-art Olympic Stadium that would rise on the site of the 1964 Olympic Stadium. An Olympic Village is planned for the same shoreline site proposed in the 2016 bid, this time with a more spacious design.
    The view from the 1964 Olympic Stadium as seen in September. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)

    Another venue reprised from the 2016 bid is the rowing and canoe venue in an abandoned ship canal, although it would cost $240 million less than the previous bid.

    With an existing inventory of 83,000+ rooms in the center of the city, Tokyo says no new hotels need to be built for the 2020 Games. No media village housing is planned.

    Tokyo offers one of the world’s most sophisticated transportation systems that includes two international airports.

    With the 2018 Winter Games being held in nearby PyeongChang, South Korea, Tokyo’s chances might be influenced by the proximity. Japan has already hosted three Olympics – two winter and one summer.
    The proposed site of the 2020 Olympic Village is currently an undeveloped plot of land. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)

    The aftermath of the Sendai earthquake and tsunami is a question Tokyo will face, though bid leaders say the impact appears non-existent. As far as the effect of a Tokyo-centered earthquake, the candidature file stresses the quality of construction and high levels of emergency preparedness. Tokyo plans for a Games-time security force of 50,850.

    Tensions between Japan and China have sharpened over disputed islands in the East China Sea, but it is hard to see this escalating into war.

    The Tokyo OCOG budget is $3.4 billion. Ticket sales will account for 23 percent of revenues, national sponsorship 24 percent.

    The non-OCOG budget is $4.8 billion.

    In terms of social media presence, Tokyo 2020 is middle of the pack: 9,643 followers on Twitter and 26,328 likes on Facebook.


    Istanbul would be the exotic choice of the 2020 race, a stunning backdrop for the Games. Turkey is the only country among the three bids not to have hosted the Olympics. The candidature file notes that Istanbul offers the chance to bring the Games to a secular Muslim nation for the first time.
    Istanbul proposes to redevelop the port district on the Asian side of the city as the site for the opening ceremony. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)

    Taking advantage of the unique setting of the Bosporus, Istanbul wants to stage a spectacular opening ceremony on the shoreline with 500,000 watching from both sides of the waterway.

    In its fifth bid, Istanbul has made steady progress building new sports venues that are part of the current bid, including the Olympic Stadium. This centerpiece of an Olympic City is in the western suburbs of Istanbul, a good distance from the attractions and hotels of the Old City. The bid proposes to use 36 venues including 11 already existing, 10 new facilities and five temporary venues.

    Istanbul proposes four venue clusters across the metropolitan area, on both European and Asian sides of the Bosporus. While transit times are promised to be kept to less than 30 minutes, the distance between the Olympic City in the west and the center of Istanbul (location for many hotels) is 20km – and it’s even further to reach venues on the Asian side of the city. The Olympic City includes 11 venues, among them athletics, making athlete travel times minimal for these sports.

    The coming of the Olympics will accelerate transport improvements for Istanbul that include rail, motorways, tunnels and bridges. The city has two international airports.

    Non-OCOG spending related to the Olympics is put at $19 billion, the highest figure among the three 2020 bids. The OCOG budget is $2.9 billion, with 19 percent coming from the government. It is the only bid with such support.
    The main gate of Olympic Stadium as seen from the inside. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)

    Ticket sales of $564 million would account for 14 percent of the OCOG budget. National sponsorships are estimated to raise $799 million, 19 percent of the budget.

    While its social media presence is weakest – 2,341 followers on Twitter; 5,132 likes on Facebook – public support is strongest for Istanbul among the three bids at 93 percent, and government backing is certain.

    The question of whether Turkey might host the 2020 UEFA Championship has become less of an issue with a pledge not to bid for the football tournament if Istanbul wins the Olympics, as well as UEFA’s new plan to stage Euro 2020 across the continent, and not in a single country.

    A growing Turkish economy and youthful population are portrayed as a plus for Istanbul.

    With 55,000 hotel rooms, Istanbul still plans a 17,500-room media village in the Olympic City cluster.

    Security concerns could arise from border tensions with Syria in the southern part of Turkey as well as the nearby Kurdish region of Turkey that spills into Iraq. Turkey lies in a zone where earthquakes occur. Istanbul plans for a force of more than 43,000 to keep the Olympics safe.


    Madrid is presenting essentially the same bid it proposed for 2016. The Olympic Stadium and Olympic Village would be in the eastern suburbs of Madrid, minutes from the airport and minutes as well from venue clusters in the center of the Spanish capital.
    As seen in this Dec. 13 photo, Estadio La Peineta is undergoing an expansion to nearly 70,000 capacity to become the new home of football club Atlético de Madrid – and the city's Olympic stadium. (Atlético de Madrid)

    Served by one of Europe’s best transport systems, no major overhauls are needed for transport in Madrid. The international airport is constantly being improved and is a major hub, as are the airports of the other bids.

    Madrid proposes to use 28 existing venues, the most of the three bids. The iggest construction project would be the Olympic Village. Landlocked Madrid is the only one of the three with sailing at a great distance, 355km away in Valencia.

    The privately-funded OCOG budget is estimated at $3.6 billion. Madrid expects to sell $1 billion in tickets. That would equal 29 percent of the OCOG budget, and would be the most aggressive target of the three bids. National sponsorships are forecast to reach $470 million.

    The non-OCOG budget is $2.3 billion, smallest of the bids.

    Madrid has an inventory of 88,000 rooms. A 3,000-bed media village is planned near the Olympic Park venue cluster.
    Spanish IOC members Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., Jose Perurena and Marisol Casado with NOC president Alejandro Blacno. (ATR)

    Public support for the bid tops 85 percent in Madrid, and there appears to be no major opposition.

    While subject to terrorist attacks in the past, Madrid and Spain are considered safe destinations. The threat of trouble from Basque separatists seems to be low. Madrid 2020 says security forces for the Games would number 79,490.

    The worst may be over for the struggling Spanish economy, which is now shrinking at a slower rate. But unemployment is still the highest in Europe, at nearly 27 percent. Bid leaders say an Olympics will help revitalize the economy, but the small scale of work needed to prepare might mean the economic impact of the Games would be limited.

    Spain has three IOC members, a possible assist for the bid when it comes to communicating the Madrid message among their fellow voting members on the IOC. Japan and Turkey have one IOC member each.

    Another advantage: a strong presence on social media. Madrid 2020 boasts 14,820 followers on Twitter and 39,247 likes on Facebook, both highs among the bids. 

     The Categories Explained

    10 points for each category, except Ambiance and Bid Operation, which are scored 5 points each, due to more subjective aspects of these categories. This results in a total possible score of 100 points across the 11 categories.

    Accommodation: Quantity, quality

    Ambiance: Is the city comfortable, tourist-friendly, a pleasure to visit?

    Bid Operation: Leadership, strategy and public relations

    Games Cost and Finance: Projected bill for the Olympics and infrastructure, unusual finance risks. Higher scores indicate lower costs, strong financials.

    Last Games in the Country: Years since last summer or winter Olympics. The higher the score, the longer since the last Games.

    Legacy: Impact of the Olympics in a city; sustainable venues

    Marketing: The size and impact of marketing programs

    Government & Public Support: The commitment of government and population to a Games

    Security: Reputation and quality of security, perceptions of risk

    Transportation: Ease of travel, multiple transport options, airports, quality of public transit, taxis

    Venues and Experience: Overall plan for the Games, experience handling other large scale events.

    Written by Ed Hula.

    For general comments or questions, click here.

    20 Years at #1:
    Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.