IOC Levels Playing Field With Release of 2020 Olympic Bid Evaluation Report

On Tuesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) released its Evalution Report analyzing the three cities vying to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

The 110-document written by the Evaluation Commission after conducting site visits and reviewing bid book is a technical review and not intended to rank or score the bids.

“The Evaluation Commission made sure to produce a report that we feel is an accurate, objective and fair assessment of each of the three Candidate Cities,” Commission Chairman Sir Craig Reedie said.

“We are indeed very pleased with the quality of each bid and it is clear that the IOC members will have a difficult choice to make this September in Buenos Aires.”

Indeed, the written evaluations seems to smooth over some perceived issued with the individual bids bringing them closer on the technical playing field. But under a microscope it appears that Tokyo may have a thin margin.

“Japan has the third largest economy in the world which grew by approximately 2% in 2012. For the period 2013-2016, the Economist Intelligence Unit projects an average annual growth rate in the range of 1% to 2% (as of April 2013),” the report said.

“Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, numerous studies and simulations have been undertaken by relevant experts to evaluate future risks to the Tokyo Bay area. These have shown that the topography and shape of the bay significantly reduce the possible impact of a tsunami.”

But for Tokyo, on the downside the report also indicated that “the Commission considers that three existing landmark venues from the 1964 Games in the Heritage Zone (city centre) that Tokyo proposes for judo, table tennis and boxing would present operational challenges due to the limited space available around the venues.”

Fear over Istanbul’s potential security issues and eye-popping price tag were smoothed over by the commission. The commission noted:

“Turkey shares a border with Syria which has resulted in the arrival in Turkey of thousands of refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria. The conflict in Syria presents security risks, although the main effects appear to be in the south-east of the country.”

“The investment required from government in the non-OCOG budget is very substantial and represents anambitious plan for infrastructure enhancement in the city. There is good understanding of the requirements of hosting the Games. While much investment is underway or planned regardless of the Games, the level of future investment might vary depending on the future performance of the Turkish economy.”

“With the exception of the Taksim Precinct, there is generous space around all venues to accommodate the required Olympic facilities.”

The report was written in March, prior to recent nation-wide anti-government demonstrations in Turkey.

On Madrid’s so-called “austerity bid”, the IOC had comments with respect to venue use and the future economy of Spain.

“The Commission believes that whilst the use of some landmark venues in the city centre (Las Ventas and Retiro Park) would undoubtedly provide a very attractive backdrop for the Games, there could be challenges involved in transforming them into Olympic venues.”

“Madrid enjoys the benefit of substantial previous investment in city infrastructure and, as a result, requires minimal additional capital investment. The Commission believes that the degree of financial risk facing Madrid2020 should be manageable over seven years within the overall Spanish economy and taking into account government guarantees.”

The IOC highlighted concerns in Istanbul’s and Tokyo’s bid file, both that offered items beyond the IOC requirements.

Istanbul offered a $250 million (USD) “innovation fund” under control of the Prime Minister; but after review by the Evaluation Commission (EC) the bid committee clarified that this was a legacy fund and it was updated as such in the electronic file.

Tokyo offered a committment to cover the NOC’s cargo costs but the EC requested that references to this be removed from all materials distributed to IOC members.

In an effort to control runaway Games costs, the commission added the note: “the Candidate Cities were reminded that IOC requirements are actual requirements and should not be interpreted as minimum requirements.”

More, including bid city reaction to come. Watch for details of the report and bid city reactions (Twitter: @gamesbids and Facebook:

Download the complete report here