2020 Olympic City To Be Named This Weekend

Sep 9, 2013

The finalists to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in 2020 are Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid.

The International Olympic Committee will announce the winner Saturday.

Then on Sunday, the IOC will announce if there will be new or returning sports added to the Games.

Finally on Tuesday, the IOC will select a new president to replace Jacques Rogge.


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The International Olympic Committee will name the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics during its meeting tomorrow in Argentina. The three finalists are Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul. The BBC's Alex Capstick joins us from Buenos Aires. And, Alex, I imagine there are some creative last-minute lobbying efforts going on amongst the potential host cities. What are they doing to win the bid?

ALEX CAPSTICK: Yes. They're frantically rushing around the city, the various hotels, hotel lobbies, talking to as many people as they can, scrambling around. It's a crucial votes to head what is being described as one of the tightest races for hosting Olympic Games in the history of these events.

I spoke to one senior IOC member a few hours ago. He said that when he arrived here in Buenos Aires at the start of the week, he thought he knew which city was going to win. He wouldn't tell me which one it was. But that now is not the case. He thinks they're all about level. It's just too tight to call. So a lot will rest on the presentation that will take place here in the hotel convention room on Saturday morning and into the afternoon. It's about how the bids portray the emotion, the passion for wanting to host the games. That will be all important when they present before the IOC members here on Saturday.

CHAKRABARTI: It seems somewhat unusual that there isn't a clear favorite of favorites this late into the process.

CAPSTICK: Yes. I mean, you could say that early on, when this whole process began a couple of years ago, Istanbul had this really unique message and quite a compelling message to bring the games to a mainly Muslim country for the first time, again on two continents, Europe and Asia. And it seemed to gain a lot of support very early on. Madrid was lagging behind. Tokyo has always been there as a strong, safe pair of hands.

But more recently, probably because of the political protests and the way the Turkish government handled - they're accused of being heavy handed, and the others, of course, specially Madrid. Madrid, when they said they were going to enter this race, people sort of laughed at little bit and said, what are you doing? You know, you haven't got any money to spend. How can you possibly host an Olympic Games? And the (unintelligible) kept quiet, and they said they have a very, very budget, $1.9 billion for the construction. And they had a very impressive presentation in (unintelligible) a few months ago, kind of a dummy round for what's going on to take place here on Saturday.

You have to say that all three are neck and neck, and that's because, probably, Istanbul had slipped a little bit from where they were six or seven months ago.

CHAKRABARTI: Interesting. And just as a reminder, Tokyo held the Olympic Games back in 1964, and Spain obviously had Barcelona as a host city in 1992. So we'll see what the IOC decides on Saturday. But what about on Sunday, when the International Olympic Committee will also announce whether some sports will return to the games?

CAPSTICK: Well, obviously, listening to the wrestling federation give their media conference here in Buenos Aires, and they were surprisingly kicked out of the Olympics by the IOC executive board earlier this year. And since then, they have a few precedence. They've changed the rules of wrestling. They've made it much more user-friendly. Wrestling has been in the Olympics forever, for thousands of years. They're determined to get back in, and many people they are very much the strong favorite. They've got a lot of support within the IOC. Up against them, a joint bid from baseball and softball. Baseball and softball were in the games. The last time they were in an event in the games in 2008 in Beijing.

And then squash is trying again. Squash is the only one of the three that's never been in the Olympics. It's been knocking on the door for a long time now. They reckon this is their best chance. But I think because wrestling is one of the three, the other two are really up against it.

CHAKRABARTI: Now, finally, Alex, the IOC's perhaps biggest change coming up will be on Tuesday, when it elects a new president to replace current president, Jacques Rogge. I mean, given the debates over human rights in Russia and China and their hosting of Winter and Summer Olympics, and also past issues about alleged corruption in the IOC, what do you think Rogge's legacy is?

CAPSTICK: Talking to the members this week, they all say that he's being a steadying hand and a man that they needed at that time. Remember, he joined the Olympics movement after the Salt Lake City scandal, the bribery scandal, the resignation of around 10 IOC members for taking bribes ahead of the vote for the Winter Olympics in 2002, which Salt Lake City won. He didn't ruffle too many feathers, but he was a steadying hand, and that's what the movement needed, then he needed to bring people together.

And under his leadership, there have been some very good Olympic Games. We have 2008 in Beijing went down well, and in London in 2012, the Summer Games, the Winter Games in Vancouver is described as one of the best ever in 2010. So he has seen - he's seen as a person who has done a very good job keeping a steady gaze over the Olympic movement, making sure that it moves in the right direction.

CHAKRABARTI: The BBC's Alex Capstick speaking to us from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Alex, thank you.

CAPSTICK: It's a pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.