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  • Istanbul Drops, Madrid Climbs, Tokyo Leads in 2020 Index


    (ATR) Madrid edges closer to Tokyo in the race for the 2020 Olympics in the final edition of the Around the Rings Olympic Bid Power Index -- while Istanbul sags as the Sep. 7 IOC vote looms.

    Istanbul tied Tokyo for the lead in the May edition of the Power Index.

    But the travails of the anti-government protests in June cost momentum that the Turkish bid seemed to enjoy a few months ago. Comments from the IOC Evaluation Commission report issued in June also affected the Istanbul rating.

    Tokyo scores 77 out of 100 points, Madrid rises to 76 while Istanbul falls to 75 from 78 in May.

    Madrid scores better, in part because the IOC report confirmed the strong technical foundation of the Spanish bid, which still faces economic challenges.

    Tokyo drops its score in just one of the 11 categories that comprise the ATR Power Index but still may have to deal with issues from the 2011 earthquake.

    The ATR Power 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, and documents such as the bid files and IOC commission reports.

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

    While the anti-government protests in June were unrelated to the Olympic bid, the tensions and tear gas billowing through the center of Istanbul were a jarring development for the 2020 campaign.

    The bid team put its best face forward, but the skirmishes between riot police and protestors were difficult to rationalize for a city seeking an event linked to peace and harmony. Although the government supports the bid, measures taken to restore order came with a cost for the image of Turkey. The standoffs around Taksim Square (and the possibility of more in the future) cost Istanbul its lead in the ambience category of the index. Security also takes a hit in the aftermath of the protests.

    Calm, it should be noted, has returned to Istanbul and other Turkish cities fpr now.
    The Bosphorus, which connects the Marmara Sea in the west to the Black Sea in the east, provides some stunning backdrops for Istanbul's bid. (ATR)

    The protests have been a major distraction for a government that has yet to get back on message regarding the Olympic bid. Already government officials are publicly lamenting the effect of the turmoil, some suggesting the protestors or Western press coverage deserves blame if Istanbul fails in its fifth attempt to win the Games. The ambivalence from the government is behind a one-point drop in public/government support in the index.

    Prime Minister Recep Taayip Erdogan clearly has to turn on the charm when he meets with IOC members next month at the 125th session in Buenos Aires. Often outspoken, this week he blamed Israel for the unrest in Egypt.

    The IOC Evaluation Commission report raises questions about Istanbul venue and transportation plans. Istanbul has 21 venues to build from the ground up, with four zones and seven clusters across the sprawling city.

    IOC concerns notwithstanding, the Turkish construction industry is one of the world’s biggest, with $14 billion in international business on the books for the first seven months of the year. Bid leaders say the country has the resources needed to deliver the Games. And the legacy from an Olympics in  Istanbul would be most significant of the three bids.

    The image of Turkish sport was dealt a blow with positive doping tests revealed in the past few months involving three dozen athletes. Bid leaders say that sanctions against the offenders show Turkey has zero tolerance for doping.

    Madrid takes the lead over Istanbul in the ambience category, a credit to the genteel atmosphere and touristic offerings of the city.

    The view from Caso de Campo, one of the world's largest urban parks and proposed venue for golf if Madrid wins the 2020 Olympics. (ATR)
    In bid operations, Madrid rises two points in the category. The Spanish capital may be much farther ahead than its rivals in securing the political support in the IOC that is essential to winning. With three IOC members from Spain and the supposed support of another -- kingmaker Sheikh Ahmad of Kuwait -- Madrid may be hard to beat at the inside game.

    Mayor Ana Botella has been a constant for the bid with support from national government figures. However, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is fending slush fund accusations as well as working to right the national economy, so he has been dealing with other issues and not been outspoken on the Madrid bid. The government gave the bid a boost with the enactment of a new anti-doping law.

    The IOC commission report confirmed Madrid' stature in transport and endorsed the low-budget finance plan for the Games. But the prospect of awarding the Olympics to a place likely to be struggling with high unemployment for years to come did not trouble the IOC. Whether an ailing economy can support the marketing goals of Madrid 2020 is another question mark.

    Tokyo has been at the top of the Power Index (or tied) in every edition of the ratings, a tribute to the planning and organization behind the bid.

    Accommodation, always a strong point for Tokyo, is also the most expensive of the three bids. The IOC report reminds all of that fact by noting that five-star hotels will go for up to $1600 per night in 2020, three-stars in the range of $600. The high rates when compared to the other bids cost a point in the category, the only drop for Tokyo.
    IOC Evaluation Commission members enjoyed this bird's eye view of the pier proposed for Tokyo's Olympic and Paralympic Village. (ATR)

    The IOC report praised other areas covered by the Power Index, especially in venue and transport planning. The Tokyo plan for 2020 appears to be the most compact of the three bids.

    Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Naoki Inose is the most energized Japanese government official backing the bid. The national government is quietly behind Tokyo 2020 but needs to avoid last-minute controversies over simmering issues with China and Korea.

    The security rating for Tokyo remains at seven, with uncertainty still an issue for the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster caused by the 2011 earthquake. While the plant is 200+ km from Tokyo, unanticipated complications could have widespread environmental, economic and political consequences for Japan.

    Tokyo 2020 believes the nuclear plant repairs are not an issue and bid leaders hope Tokyo Olympics help provide a boost to recovery efforts in the region stricken by the quake and power plant breakdown.

    August 2013
    Ambience (5)
    4 (5)
    5 (4)
    4 (4)
    8 (8)
    8 (8)
    8 (9)
    Bid Operation
    7 (7)
    8 (6)
    7 (7)
    8 (8)
    6 (6)
    8 (8)
    Last Games (5)
    5 (5)
    4 (4)
    3 (3)
    8 (8)
    6 (6)
    8 (8)
    7 (7)
    6 (6)
    7 (7)
    Public Support
    8 (9)
    8 (8)
    7 (7)
    6 (7)
    7 (7)
    7 (7)
    7 (7)
    9 (8)
    9 (9)
    Venue Plans
    7 (7)
    9 (9)
    9 (9)
    75 (78)
    76 (72)
    77 (78)

    The Categories Explained 

    10 points for each category, except Ambience and Last Games, which are scored five 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

    Ambience: 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.

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