Buenos Aries, Argentina – The three bid cities for the 2020 Olympic Games have told their final stories, made their last pleas and now wait as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) members prepare to vote.
With carefully planned agendas, meticulously written scripts and creatively imagined videos – each city provided 45-minute presentations to 101 IOC members (2 members are absent) – 95 of which are eligible to vote on the first ballot. They each addressed their strengths, but more importantly addressed any perceived weaknesses – in some cases head on.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took on Tokyo’s most prominent issue without hesitation.
“Some may have concerns about Fukushima,” he said to members.
“Let me assure you, the situation is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.”
Later, as a result of questions from the IOC Abe blamed media headlines and urged members to read past them for the facts.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan spoke about peace and tolerance. Videos of young people were shown discussing the love for their country and society.
He said “we would like to send a strong message of peace to the whole world.”
This was certainly to try to deflect images of anti-government demonstrations across Turkey that were broadcast around the world earlier this year.
For Madrid, Spanish IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch discussed his bid’s strategy to deal with out-of-control spending and high-risk future Games. Madrid has over 80% of the venues already built and remaining work and preparation would be on a budget.
“Seven years is not a lot of time to prepare – to mitigate you should choose a city that has prepared ahead of time,” he said.
Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy used numbers and charts to demonstrate that the economy is improving and will continue to do so.
But both Istanbul and Tokyo had their own takes on financial risk.
Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose said “we have $4.5 billion ready right now … we will build 10 new venues.”
New buildings, new legacy and money in the bank might be music in members’ ears.
Minister of Financial Affairs Ali Babacan said that through Istanbul’s delivery agency the costs are guaranteed.
He said “we’re talking not money in the bank, but money already committed.”
Doping violations, a hot topic regarding Istanbul where in Turkey there were 31 failed tests last month, and in Madrid who have recently been under fire for their practices, were spoken about.
Turkish IOC Member Urgur Erdener said “we will continue to enforce our zero-tolerance policy on doping”.
Takeda said that no Japanese athlete has ever failed a doping test.
The scope of the impact of each Games plan varied with Istanbul trying to bridge cultures and impact a region.
Director of Sport for Istanbul Alp Berker said “a Games in Istanbul will change the landscape in our region in a profound and permanent way – opening a new market for Olympic and Paralympic sport.”
But Tokyo is planning for a global impact by creating technology and creativity.
Takeda asked rhetorically, “which city goes beyond a national agenda and has a global vision… to promote the Olympic Values in this challenging era for sport.”
Madrid, through its strategy of efficiency and sustainability, plans to set a model for future Games and plans to benefit the entire Olympic movement.
Storms rolled through Buenos Aires Saturday morning with thunder and heavy rain during the presentations at the Hilton hotel where the 125th IOC Session is taking place this week. At one point the video feeds from Madrid’s presentation were lost and unavailable to the Internet, broadcasters and the 1500 or so media personnel at the press centre adjacent to the hotel.
Overall Tokyo’s presentation style has improved during the campaign, adding emotion, English – and even French. Tokyo 2020 CEO Masato Mizuno surprised when he made some of his remarks in well-spoken French.
The presentation was introduced by Princess Takamado of the Imperial Royal Family with remarks that were separate from the main programme but were eloquent on their own.
Spain’s crown Prince Felipe was a member of the Madrid presentation team and took part in an interaction with Basketball star Pau Gasol – but this ‘surprise’ element of the presentation occurred when the video feeds were lost.
The Spanish team seemed relaxed, even as Samaranch quipped about the opposing bids “We wish them luck – if only for the 2024 Games.”
Throughout Istanbul’s presentation there were emotional pleas, and promises of history, beauty and culture. But towards the end of the presentation bid Chief Arat may have over sold his case by mentioning too many themes.
It’s seems Tokyo may have been able to swing some votes with the presentation, if just a few, due to renewed charisma and a solid business case. But overall, there was no real standout.
Now it’s time for the IOC have their say.