BidIndex: Istanbul Maintains Narrow Lead in 2020 Olympic Bid Index

Toronto, Canada – Amid a tight race for the 2020 Olympic Games, Istanbul has increased its narrow lead in the widely acclaimed BidIndex, according to results released Thursday.

Tokyo’s bid follows second while Madrid trails in this three-city race to host the Games.

BidIndex has become the “industry standard” measurement of the competitiveness of bids for the Olympic Games since its initial release 10 years ago. In the past two bid campaigns, BidIndex correctly gauged that Olympic host cities Rio de Janeiro and PyeongChang had bids that were most similar to past successful bids.

This is the first update since May 2012, prior to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) applicant short listing that left bids from Baku, Azerbaijan and Doha, Qatar out of the race. Both cities had been indexed well behind the three frontrunners by BidIndex at the time.

Only the three short listed candidates are included in Thursday’s update that also comprehends the initial IOC evaluation report released last May and candidate bid books that were submitted in January this year, as well as any other information that has become publically available during the period.

Istanbul’s high score (61.78, up 1.58) is a result of a combination of over 100 fundamental evaluations calculated by BidIndex. Highlighted among them is Turkey’s strong economic growth compared to its rivals and Istanbul’s Olympic bidding experience that includes four recent campaigns. Istanbul also demonstrates strong public support coming from a country and region that has never hosted an Olympic Games.

Also keeping Istanbul on top is the recent revelation by bid chief Hasan Arat that Turkey has no official interest in hosting the UEFA European Championship in 2020, and that his nation is focused only on the Olympics. Prior to the last BidIndex release, Turkey had announced intentions to bid for Euro 2020 that weakened perceptions of the country’s interest in the Olympics. The IOC won’t award an Olympics to a region that is already hosting another major event the same year.

Istanbul’s bid committee will still have to assure the IOC that its infrastructure will be ready for the Games and that traffic won’t become a major headache.

Despite falling further behind, Tokyo’s index increased (61.07 up 1.15) due to a continuing aggressive campaign and good results in the IOC evaluation last year. The bid boasts strong fundamentals with good venue plans, finances, tourism infrastructure, sport event and planning experience, a strategic legacy plan and a previous bid (for 2016).

But Tokyo must still overcome some irremovable obstacles if it hopes to finish in front at the IOC election. The 2020 Games may be too soon after the Winter Olympics in nearby PyeongChang, South Korea; the IOC typically likes to move consecutive Olympics around the globe.

Additionally, the bid will have to overcome negative perceptions that have resulted from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Should the country focus efforts on recovery instead? Will Tokyo be safe? The management questions like these, whether they are valid or not, could be a critical success factor.

Madrid (57.29 up 2.19) was the top gainer in this release, but the bid is still lagging behind, mainly due to Spain’s ongoing economic crisis and related budget cuts to the bid. A generously funded bid is essential for it to be competitive – this is one of the most consistent factors measured in BidIndex. If corners are being cut as this stage, what can the IOC expect if Madrid wins and needs to spend billions of Euros to organize?

This is Madrid’s third consecutive bid, and Spain’s fifth, so experience is a strength. The plans are well-defined with deep Olympic roots and the bid has strong support from influential IOC members. But without money to back it up, hosting an Olympics may remain a dream for Madrid.

“BidIndex for 2020 has become quite stable, and we’ve seen minimal updates and changes,” explained Rob Livingstone, Producer of

“But with six months remaining before the vote, that can change quickly. This race is wide open.”

BidIndex is not intended to rate the bids based solely on technical quality, but on how the bids will perform based on IOC voting patterns. History has proven that the best technical bids often do not win but other factors such as geopolitics usually have a significant impact.

Before you draw any conclusions keep in mind that the race is only at the midway point and a key evaluation report and many presentations to come will help augment the information needed by BidIndex. The analysis will be updated frequently before the Host City Election is held in Buenos Aires, Argentina on September 7, 2013.

Starting next week, the IOC Evaluation Commission will begin technical evaluation visits to the three cities. Four-day visits will start in Tokyo on March 4, continue in Madrid on March 18 and finish in Istanbul on March 24. The results of these visits, along with the bid books submitted by the cities, will form the basis of the final evaluation report.

Full BidIndex details can be found on the BidIndex results page or contact info (at) for more information.


Istanbul 61.78 +1.58
Madrid 57.29 +2.19
Tokyo 61.07 +1.15