Who has the inside track for the 2020 Olympic Games?
In Buenos Aires in September 2013 the International Olympic Committee will select the country that will host the 2020 Olympic Games. There are currently three cities in the running for the right to host the Games. Istanbul, Turkey; Madrid, Spain and Tokyo, Japan are vying for the honor of hosting the Games. Currently insiders believe that Istanbul has the inside track to host the Games.
How does the IOC make the decision on who will actually host the Games? First there is a Technical Commission that does substantial due diligence on everything from reviewing the sports facility infrastructure to evaluating security and the number of hotel rooms available for media and spectators.
Experience also matters and countries that have hosted a large number of international events will also sway the decision.
There are many additional factors that will influence the final decision. For example, Spain’s economy is still struggling and the IOC will be reluctant to award the Games to a country with a struggling economy. Tokyo, indeed the entire country of Japan, is still reeling from the impact of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the tiny island in 2011.
Istanbul, Turkey has never hosted an Olympic Games and perhaps that is one of the more compelling reasons to consider Turkey the odds on favorite. The Turkish economy is strong and growing and there has never been an Olympic Games in that part of the world. The IOC needs to continue to expand the Olympic Ideals not to mention the Olympic brand and awarding the Games to emerging countries like Turkey makes good business sense.
Another geopolitical factor to consider is that PyeongChang, South Korea will host the Winter Games in 2018 and the IOC likes to “spread the wealth” by moving the Games to different continents in order to insure wide spread support around the globe. That would also seem to mitigate against the Tokyo bid.
One wild card factor that could move the decision in another direction is the unrest in the Middle East. With the turmoil in Syria and unrest in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is still important to insure political stability in a region before awarding the Games. If the Middle East powder keg erupts or appears to be unstable in September, Madrid could win the host city rights in spite of their financial troubles.
It will be interesting to watch the IOC continue their evaluation in the months ahead. When the small group of IOC members enter the privacy of the meeting room to cast their ballots, there will be many factors in play beyond the obvious issues mentioned here. Count on politics and a considerable quid quo pro to swing the votes to the winning city. Stay tuned. It's not over until September.