Tokyo will be sports fans’ destination for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympics Games. The International Olympic Committee selected Japan’s capital city today, home to over 36,000 people.
Tokyo last hosted the games in 1964. This round they used the slogan, “the Olympics will be safe in our hands.” This pitch and Tokyo’s pledge to spend a fraction of what the London Olympics cost likely weighed heavily in their favor against the backdrop of cities that have struggled to pull off the massive event, specifically Athens in 2004 and the Rio de Janeiro anticipating 2016, added to next year’s winter host Sochi coming in as the most expensive Games in history.
Competing cities Istanbul and Madrid are feeling the sting of multiple disappointments in their Olympic hosting dreams. Both have congratulated Tokyo on the win.
I was in Madrid during their attempt at winning last year’s Summer Games, when beat out by London, and the excitement (before) and disappointment (after) were palpable. This is Madrid’s third consecutive pitch, having been knocked out of contention for the 2016 Games as well by Rio. Barcelona was the site of the 1992 Summer Games.
NBA basketball star and Olympic silver medalist Pau Gasol, a prominent figure in Madrid’s presentation, said, “It’s a shame because we were confident and had a good feeling… I don’t think our work has been duly recognized in this instance.” Madrid actually presented the least expensive option to the IOC.
Istanbul is suffering its fifth rejection by the IOC—it beat Madrid but a silver second can sometimes be most painful. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had optimistically flown to Buenos Aires, where the vote was being held, to make the country’s bid after attending the Group of 20 Summit in Russia. But Istanbul suffered problems in June when protesters and government officials clashed violently. Probably not working in the country’s favor either are a series of doping scandals involving Turkish athletes and uncertainty about violence in neighboring Syria.
Erdogan said after the vote, “It wasn’t our fate.”
London mayor Boris Johnson sent Tokyo his congratulations, one host to another, “Huge congratulations to Tokyo for winning the honor of hosting the greatest sporting spectacular on the planet… I am sure that, like London, your great city will put on an extraordinary event.” He promised to share experiences from last year’s Games.[Images from Olympics and Istanbul Facebook pages and the author.]