Tokyo Selected to host 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Istanbul and Madrid Eliminated

The following report was primarily created by Tony Carroll, with minor additions made by myself, Varun. Most of the credit goes to Tony!

Today in Buenos Aires, Argentina, 100 delegates of the International Olympic Committee met to decide the host of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. The choice came down to three potential cities; Madrid, Tokyo, or Istanbul.  The I.O.C. voted and the 2020 Olympic Games will be hosted in Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo’s 2020 bid will have a budget of $75 Million, which is half the amount of their previous 2016 bid, which had a $150 Million budget.

The Japanese government believes hosting the games will be beneficial to Japan and will be a positive step forward following the recent earthquake and tsunami that Japan experienced earlier in 2011. Furthermore, Japan has come under extreme scrutiny following the leakage of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, but Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe successfully convinced IOC representatives that the entire situation is under control.  Tokyo established itself as “a safe pair of hands”, and Japan also boasts the world’s third-largest economy.  The Bank of Japan recently delivered a statement that detailed how Japan is moderately recovering, a huge step for a country that has been battered over the last 5 years.

In January 2012 polls suggested that nearly 66% of the country supports the bid. Prior to the vote, anonymous sources within the IOC stated that Tokyo was the favorite to win their Olympic bid over Istanbul and Madrid provided no major mistakes are made before the IOC vote. The safe and secure nature of Tokyo is seen as a major factor giving the Tokyo bid an advantage.

Tokyo’s first Olympic bid was for the 1940 Summer Olympics. Tokyo won the bid but the Games were cancelled due to World War II. They later bid for the 1960 Summer Olympics and lost to Rome. Tokyo made a successful bid for the 1964 Summer Olympics and Tokyo became the first Asian city to host the Olympic Games. By receiving the 2020 Olympic Bid, Japan becomes the first Asian country to ever host the Summer Olympic Games twice.

It was confirmed in February 2012 that the National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo would receive a $1 billion upgrade and full-scale reconstruction. As a result, a design competition for the new stadium was launched. Plans include dismantling the original stadium, and expanding the capacity from 50,000 to a modern Olympic capacity of about 80,000.

Swimming and the other aquatic events will be held in the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Center. The pool, built in 1997, can hold 3,635 spectators.

Madrid and Istanbul were the other two cities under consideration. Istanbul has never hosted the Olympic Games and their bid received the endorsement of American Olympic gold-medalist Mark Spitz who won a total of nine Olympic gold medals. This was Istanbul’s 5th overall bid to host the Olympic Games. Madrid’s Spanish neighbors, Barcelona, hosted the Olympic Games in 1992 and the city itself hosted the FINA World Championships this summer. This was Madrid’s third consecutive failed bid to host the Olympic Games.

Spain’s current economic situation and their record unemployment numbers, especially for the youth, may have hurt Madrid’s bid. Madrid was also in the news back in June for a crackdown where 84 people were arrested for distributing sports doping substances across Spain. It was reported by the New York Times that about 707,000 doses of anabolic steroids, blood boosters, and growth hormones were seized.

Istanbul may have been hurt by the amount of money they will need to get the city into “hosting shape,” it is reported that it will take $19 billion to be ready to host the games alone. There have been a lot of political protests from students and secularists against the government. There is also violence in the East from the Kurdish Separatist Movement as well as the potential for the war in Syria to spill over. Istanbul had hoped that the city would be allowed to host the Games, as the Olympics would have delivered a message of peace and friendship in the Middle East, which is in dire need of such optimism following the recent escalation of events in the area. However, with all this uncertainty, nobody really knows where Turkey will be in seven years, and this uncertainty is not conducive for the hosting of an event as massive and prestigious as the Olympic Games.

Following the announcement, IOC President Jacques Rogge had this to say: “Tokyo presented a very strong technical bid from the outset – and it needed to in competition with two such high-calibre bids from Istanbul and Madrid. All three cities were capable of staging excellent Games in 2020, but in the end it was Tokyo’s bid that resonated the most with the IOC membership, inviting us to “discover tomorrow” by delivering a well-organised and safe Games that will reinforce the Olympic values while demonstrating the benefits of sport to a new generation.”

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Tokyo won deservedly.

Speculation about the 2024 host city can begin. It will be between European and American city barring a noteworthy African candidate.

Lane Four

Wait…did I read that correctly? The swim stadium holds only 3,635 spectators???????? Ok, there has got to be an error in there.

Lame Four – that’s the existing pool. It will probably be primarily a host for synchro and water polo, maybe diving.

Lane Four

Ok…but the article does say “swimming”, giving the reader the impression that this pool is where the swimming will take place. Something needs to be added to the article to clear up any misunderstandings.


A South African bid would be appealing as another new frontier candidate for the IOC. I’m hearing Durban could be the choice over Cape Town. It is worth noting that Europe has never gone longer than 12 years between hosting the Summer Olympics. With Madrid and Istanbul falling at the final hurdle today, Paris would be my favourites for 2024. Not only does it coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 1924 Paris Olympics, the French capital have been very close in three previous bids and the IOC may decide their time has come. South Africa v North America (Toronto and USA) in 2028 with the losers taking 2032 and then back to Europe in 2036 (Berlin, Rome, St Petersburg?).… Read more »


The vibe from South Africa seems to be that they’re proud of how well the World Cup went but that the country would rather work on taking care of growing social programs and strengthening the financial stability of their sports federations than putting up the kind of shiny giant sport buildings the Olympic movement demands.

Can’t say I blame them for that attitude, especially since they’ve been asking some of their elite but not superstar athletes to essentially pay their own way to World Championship level events lately because the money’s not there at the federation level.


Globalization applies also to sports and it means that at least central European candidates can’t trust to win every third Olympic Games anymore.

About Varun Shivakumar

Varun Shivakumar hails from Hoffman Estates, IL and swam competitively for 16 years. He swam both backstroke events at Northwestern University, and ranks fifth in the school’s All-time performances list in the 200 yard backstroke. Representing NASA Wildcat Aquatics, he also competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha, NE …

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