The International Olympic Committee met recently in Buenos Aires and selected Tokyo as the host city for the 2020 (Summer) Olympic Games. Tokyo was one of three finalists competing against Istanbul and Madrid. Given the current problems being experienced by the Organizing Committee in Brazil, host of the 2016 Games, the IOC had little difficulty choosing “safe” Tokyo. Unrest in the Middle East and economic instability in Spain pushed voters to a more traditional choice in Tokyo.
Some concern had been expressed over the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in Japan but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a strong and personal international appeal in the weeks prior to the IOC vote. Tokyo will welcome the Olympic family for the second time having hosted the Games in 1964. The award of the Games was met with elation in Japan, a country recovering from the natural disasters and the attendant economic problems which followed.
The IOC has had problems on many fronts recently. Brazil continues to be buffeted by protests over unfulfilled government promises, lagging Olympic construction and negative publicity surrounding the 2014 FIFA World Cup issues. Additionally, the IOC has experienced considerable pressure over the antigay legislation passed in Russia, site of the 2014 Winter Games.
Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Olympics, and Japan has twice hosted the Winter Games, in Sapporo in 1972 and in Nagano in 1998. Japan also hosted the 2002 World Cup with South Korea and has repeatedly shown it can organize the world’s largest sporting events. It has a reserve fund worth $4.5 billion to build stadiums for the 2020 Games. These facts seemed to reassure the IOC making Japan a safe and more traditional choice to host the Games.
In addition to selecting Tokyo as the host city for 2020, the IOC also elected German athlete and IOC member, Thomas Bach as its President. He succeeds Jacques Rogge who served twelve years as President.
Some have questioned the wisdom of Asia serving as host to the 2008 Olympics (Beijing), the 2018 Winter Games (PyeongChang) and the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
However, attention quickly turned to speculation that the United States may bid on the 2024 Olympics. The USA has not hosted an Olympics since the Atlanta Games in 1996. Recent revenue sharing issues between the IOC and US Olympic Committee have been resolved possibly opening the way for consideration of an American Olympic bid. Los Angeles has already expressed an interest in hosting the Games for the third time.