The International Olympic Committee selected Tokyo to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. At its 125th Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Saturday, the IOC membership voted - Tokyo: 60, Istanbul: 36 in the final selection round. Tokyo reaped a plurality of votes (42) in the first round to progress, while Istanbul advanced by winning a close runoff vote, 49-45, that broke a 26-26 first round deadlock with Madrid.
Each city’s delegation, as led by its country’s leader, presented their final pitch to the IOC this morning. Tokyo, a frontrunner in recent polls and in bookmakers’ odds, assured the IOC of its experience, safety, and readiness – a strong card in these uncertain times. Fending off late-breaking concerns stemming from recent leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant, the Japanese contingent assured the IOC that, “We are a safe pair of hands.”
The experienced Istanbul promoters, bolstered by having bid on the Olympic Games for the fifth time, touted its multi-cultural position in the world, on the border between Europe and Asia. Yet, this geographic hot spot, amidst the rising turmoil in the mid-east, may have triggered anxieties among the IOC staff. Further, beset by its own internal protests in June at the city’s infamous Taksim Square, the Turkish team had to defend itself in promoting a safe Summer Games.
Madrid, an early favorite to land the selection, promoted its readiness to host this quadrennial. It pitched a frugal, cost-conscious Olympics - claiming that 80% of its infrastructure is already in place. Hoping that this third consecutive bid would be the charm, the city downplayed the current financial crisis in Spain, and declared it to be a non-factor seven years removed from now. Still, the IOC membership, comprised of numerous European representatives, believed that Europe could be better represented at a future Summer Games.
Tokyo and all of Japan will be celebrating the win, a much needed confidence boost for a country that has garnered sympathy and praise in overcoming recent tragedies.