Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 2nd 2013 Contents A61
Monday, September 2, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Rarely, if ever, has so much been on the line at
a single Olympic meeting.
When International Olympic Committee members
gather next week in Buenos Aires, Argentina, they
will be faced with three decisions that will shape the
direction of the Olympic movement for the next
At stake: Choosing the host city of the 2020
Olympics, electing a new IOC president to succeed
Jacques Rogge and selecting one sport to add to the
The favorites: Tokyo, Thomas Bach and wrestling.
Prime ministers, royalty, sports stars and celebrities
will be part of the election extravaganza at the IOC
session. The weeklong meetings will have the flavor
of a political carnival replete with last-minute cam-
paigning, backstage vote-chasing and round-the-
clock lobbying by spin doctors, consultants and
While most IOC members are primarily interested
in the Sept 10 presidential election, the first big vote
comes on Sept 7 with a secret ballot on the 2020
It s a three-way contest between Tokyo, Madrid
All three are repeat candidates: Istanbul is making
its fifth overall bid, Madrid a third straight attempt
and Tokyo a second try in a row.
Tokyo has been seen as a slight front-runner,
though the leak of radioactive water from the Fukushi-
ma nuclear plant is causing concern. Madrid---once
counted out because of Spain s economic crisis---
has picked up momentum recently and now looks
like a legitimate challenger. Istanbul has slipped fol-
lowing the anti-government protests and doping
scandals in Turkey and the escalating war in neigh-
With each bid facing political, economic or other
drawbacks, the winner could be determined not for
its positive attributes but for having fewer weaknesses
than its rivals.
"There s no obvious choice," senior Canadian IOC
member Dick Pound told The Associated Press.
"Where do you go? None of the three is risk free.
Probably somebody ends up backing into it this
Each city offers a different narrative. Istanbul
would bring the games to a new part of the world,
to a predominantly Muslim country for the first time,
to a city linking Europe and Asia. Madrid has most
of the venues ready and would spend the least. Tokyo
offers safety and reliability at a time of global uncer-
In the end, the decision could center on which
city offers the least risk. After taking gambles by
sending the 2014 Winter Games to Sochi, Russia,
and 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro, some members
feel it s time to opt for certainty. Delays in Rio are
causing serious concerns and the IOC is eager to
avoid more headaches.
"We re looking for the city which we can look
toward to be the most secure option at this stage,
given global uncertainties and the fact that we re
entering into a new era with a new presidency," long-
time Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper said.
"We re looking for a safe pair of hands."
That sentiment works in favor of Tokyo, which
hosted the games in 1964 and has repeatedly played
up its case as being the "safe" choice. Tokyo also
received the best overall review in an IOC technical
report this summer.
"Of course we know how serious the Japanese are
and we know they would deliver what they propose
for sure," Swiss IOC member and presidential can-
didate Denis Oswald said.
The last few days and hours of the campaign could
be vital. The final presentations on the day of the
decision could swing a few votes that decide the
outcome. Leading the bid delegations will be prime
ministers Shinzo Abe of Japan, Mariano Rajoy of
Spain and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
With a majority required for victory, the city with
the fewest votes from the 100-or-so members is
eliminated after each round. In this case, the vote
is expected to go the maximum two rounds.
"I think the ultimate choice will be a matter of
a difference of two, three votes, not more than that,"
Members often vote for personal, sentimental or
geographical reasons. Some will still be undecided
when they get to Buenos Aires.
"IOC members vote with their hearts, not with
their heads," veteran Norwegian member Gerhard
Heiberg said. "They will look at the presentations
and vote right there and then, not thinking that this
is seven years ahead. That could decide who will
take the gold medal."
Doraemon, one of
the most popular
characters in Japan,
participates in a
of the Tokyo's bid
to host the 2020
Olympics in Tokyo.
Tokyo, Istanbul and
Madrid are bidding
to host the 2020
Olympics. The IOC
will select the host
city by secret ballot
on September 7 in
Major decisions for IOC
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