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September 7, 2013

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Home » Sports » Olympics

Cities brace for bid announcement

Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid were yesterday preparing to celebrate or commiserate their 2020 Olympics bids, as political leaders from all three countries make a final push to clinch the Games.

Members of the International Olympic Committee vote this afternoon in Buenos Aires, with bookmakers putting Tokyo just in front of Madrid as favorite and the eagerly-awaited result to be beamed live across the world.

Questions over safety have dogged Tokyo’s bid, however, because of the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami while Madrid has faced fears about the state of Spain’s recession-hit economy.

Istanbul, meanwhile, has been in the spotlight after a heavy-handed crackdown on anti-government protesters earlier this year and the bloody conflict in Turkey’s neighbor Syria.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayip Erdogan and Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy were all due in the Argentine capital today in a last-ditch effort to persuade IOC members of their cases. In the bid cities themselves, though, final preparations were under way to mark the decision.

Tokyo’s super-efficient underground train system has for months been awash with posters showing the triumphant faces of Japanese athletes at the 2012 Games in London.

“Next time, this feeling could be felt in Japan,” the posters read, with an upbeat mood across the city reflected in increasingly glowing reports on the city’s chances.

In Madrid, workers were busy building a huge stage of scaffolding on the Plaza de la Independencia, a major roundabout around a great stone arch next to the leafy Retiro park.

The stage will host concerts and appearances by sports personalities this afternoon and evening, with big screens broadcasting the IOC decision live.

“I am looking forward to hearing the decision tomorrow,” said Ciro Cabal, a 28-year-old biologist, pausing as he did stretches after jogging in the Retiro.

In Istanbul, thousands of people are expected to watch the IOC vote on giant screens at Sultanahmet Square, between Hagia Sofya and the Blue Mosque.

Sports Minister Suat Kilic told the Hurriyet newspaper that Istanbul was ready both economically and in terms of support. “Everyone did their share for Istanbul 2020... We have reached out to all delegates who are going to vote... We have already deserved Istanbul 2020,” he wrote.


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