POSTED: April 17th 2012

2020 Olympic bidding heats up as cities complete initial presentations

JOHN GOODBODY / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: The race to stage the 2020 Olympic Games escalated when the five applicant cities addressed Olympic committees in Moscow as the lobbying for support intensified, with just over a month to go before the candidate shortlist is drawn up.

The rivals, Doha, Baku, Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid are all seeking to be one of the nominated cities, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selects the list during the Sport Accord Convention in Quebec, Canada on May 20-23.

Addressing the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees, the cities outlined to delegates their strategies and philosophy and why they wanted to stage the biggest event in global sport.

Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar said:”This is a bid on behalf of the entire Middle East and North Africa region. It is not a single effort of Qatar but one of a region whose population will reach 700 million people by 2020. We want to utilise the 2020 Games to create new sporting and commercial opportunities for the Olympic Movement and develop sporting programmes and venues that benefit an entire region.”

The President of the Doha bid explained that athletes “were at the heart of this vision”, which is why it was proposed to host the Games October 2-18 when conditions would be cooler for the competitors. He said: “You could say we have finally taken the heat out of Doha’s ‘hot issue.’”

Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Lady of Azerbaijan, speaking to 1,000 delegates at Moscow’s World Trade Centre: ”Baku is a vibrant city, a visionary mixture of ancient and modern architecture, a rich    palette of cultures and generations of history. Above all, Baku is a dynamic, healthy-lifestyle city. On a fine summer day, you can swim in the warm waters of the Caspian Sea, go for a run along the boulevard or enjoy sports in several newly constructed, state-of-the-art facilities.”

Elkham Mammadov, the Baku 2020 Sports and Venues Director, said: “We offer the Olympic Movement a Games model based on true need. This means sustainable venues designed to remain in place, serving local and regional athletes. Our model can show future potential host cities that the Olympic Games are achievable, responsible investments for the future.”

Tokyo is the only one of the applicant cities to have staged a Summer Olympics previously (in 1964). Its presentation emphasised the compact nature of the bid, with 28 out of 31 competition venues being located within an 8kms radius of the Olympic and Paralympic city.

Tsunekazu Takeda, the President of Tokyo 2020, said there would be a showcase stadium on the site of the 1964 one, adding: “We are highly motivated to the leverage of the power of sport, with the firm commitment from the Tokyo and national governments to help heal, unite and inspire Japan at a time of national rebuilding. Staged in the world’s most forward-thinking city, our Games will embrace world-class infrastructure and technology and be powered by the energy of our young people.”

Istanbul, which has been regularly trying to host for the Games in recent decades, emphasized that this was “a new bid” with an emphasis on a youth-focused Olympic legacy vision –half the 70 million population is under the age of 25 -- as well as the unequivocal government commitments in place to realise it.

Hasan Arat, the vice-president of the Turkish NOC, said: “Our plan is completely aligned with the city’s long-term master plan. Our landmark Olympic city includes a new sustainable model for Olympics parks. Acceleration of our port redevelopment at the gateway to the Bosphorus will create a symbol of the Games and the new Turkey.”

Madrid, which unsuccessfully bid for the 2012 and 2016 Games, told delegates that it had unreserved support for the Olympic project from the Spanish Government and pointed out that in the coming two years, it would host six world championships in Olympic sports –swimming, shooting, cycling, handball, basketball and sailing.

Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., a member of the IOC and son of the former president, highlighted the fact that the aspirations to host the Olympic Games require sincere communication and transparency, full integration of the people and institutions involved in the project, constant co-operation with the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee, federations, athletes and media and the participation of all Government level and the whole society, especially young people. He concluded: “I can assure you this implies a great deal of responsibility.”

Keywords · 2020 Olympics · Olympic bidding · Baku · Doha · Istanbul · Madrid · Tokyo

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