Madrid and Tokyo have both previously hosted the Olympics. The final vote was between Istanbul and Tokyo. Madrid was eliminated largely because it came in under a very low budget ($2 billion) saying infrastructure from the previous games was adequate and needed little change. They also cited their ample sports experience, having hosted a number of other high-profile, international events.
Other issues against Madrid may have been its unstable economy (25% unemployment) and widespread blood doping issues with Spanish athletes in previous years.
Istanbul’s proposed budget was a whopping $19 billion. Since the country had never hosted an Olympics, every facility would have had be to be new, state of the art construction. Tokyo’s $5-$6 billon budget already has $4.9 billion pledged and attractors included a new $1 billion national stadium that will be used for the athletic events and the Opening Ceremonies. This stadium will already have been built for the rugby World Cup in 2017 and is not considered an Olympic expense.
The Olympic committee’s decision against Istanbul may also have been influenced by Turkey’s proximity to Syria, now considered an unstable country with internal fighting. Also, this would have been the first time a predominantly Muslim country hosted the games. Turkey’s population is young with the average age being 30. Some feared lack of maturity in the country’s population could cause delays and other issues with construction, which would include extensive new transportation systems.
Earlier this year, some Turkish athletes tested positive for drugs, which also cast a negative note on Istanbul. This is the fifth rejection Istanbul has received as a host city.
Tokyo’s winning bid is not without concerns. Many countries are raising safety red flags in light of radiation dangers leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally made a presentation to the committee and promised an effective cleanup. Many countries remain skeptical, however, especially as they see a widening array of strange attempts in containment of nuclear waste and radiation, including a recently unveiled attempt at slowing spread by freezing the surrounding sea water.
Despite the controversy, Japan is ecstatic at receiving the bid. In additional news, three new sports are being considered for first time inclusion in the 2020 Olympics. The decision will be made later this week among squash, wrestling and a combined baseball/softball offering.
Future Olympic host countries are Winter Olympics in Russia in 2014 and South Korea in 2018 and Summer Olympics in Brazil in 2016.
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