Thursday, September 12, 2013

2020 Olympic Games awarded to Tokyo, Japan

The 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games were awarded to Tokyo, Japan on Sept. 7 after the city beat out bids from Madrid, Spain and Istanbul, Turkey. Tokyo previously held the event in 1964. The voting for the Games took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tokyo won the first round of voting with Madrid and Istanbul being tied for second. A tie-breaking vote was Istanbul beat Madrid by four votes and this set up a head-to-head vote between Tokyo and Istanbul. International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge then announced that Tokyo had won the deciding vote by a score of 60 to 36.

Some voters were worried about the alleged radiation leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant near Tokyo and backed Istanbul. However, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the IOC that there won’t be any problems with the nuclear plant during the Games. It was the fifth time that Istanbul had entered a bid for the Olympics and the fifth time the city was turned down while Madrid was bidding for the third straight time. Istanbul was also looking to become the first Muslim nation to host the Games.

It’s believed the recent political unrest in Turkey didn’t help as well as a recent doping scandal and the jailing of journalists and political opponents. The doping scandal saw more than 30 athletes suspended after they failed drug tests.  Also, Turkey borders Syria and the threat of war is rising there. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan of Turkey told the IOC that his nation is craving for peace and would love to show the world that Istanbul is a city of brotherhood and friendship.

However, Istanbul would have been faced with the task of modernizing its transportation system as well as other parts of the city’s infrastructure, such as sports venues. The total cost to host the Games in Istanbul would have reached a minimum of $19 billion. Madrid had a hard time to convince the IOC that the city would be a good location for the event due to the rising unemployment situation in Spain and the uncertain economic standing of the European country.

Tokyo said their hosting costs would be approximately $5 or $6 billion and the local government already has $4.9 billion of this in place in an Olympic fund. Also, a new national stadium is being built at a cost of $1 billion which is going to be used for the 2017 Rugby World Cup and various other sporting events and it won’t be a part of the Olympic expenses. Madrid’s bid came in at just $2 billion as the Spanish government said most of the infrastructure and venues are already in place due to past international events.

But unemployment in Spain is approximately 25 per cent for the adult population  and the country has also been hit with doping accusations. Asia will now host two consecutive Olympics as the 2018 Games will be held in South Korea and the Summer Games will be two years later in Tokyo. Japan has also hosted Winter Games in the past in the cities of Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1988.

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