The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced back on 23 May 2012 the official candidate cities for the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
They were: Istanbul, Madrid and 1964 hosts Tokyo.
Unsurprisingly the IOC rejected the proposed bids from Doha and Baku, while Rome pulled out the night before the other five cities submitted their applications.
Both Doha and Baku had their 2016 bids rejected at the same point.
Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, is becoming somewhat of a go-to place for international events.
The city has hosted World and European Championships in Rhythmic Gymnastics and Wrestling, last year’s Armature Boxing World Championship, a Women’s Volleyball Challenge Cup and a European Taekwondo Championship in the last five years.
Many of the matches for the upcoming 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup will be played in Baku, which also hosted this years’ Eurovision Song Contest.
Doha, Qatar’s capital, has hosted the 1988 and 2011 Asian Football Championships, the 2006 Asian Games, the 2010 World Indoor Athletics Championship and last years’ Pan Arab Games.
And as we all know, Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup.
I believe Doha’s bids will always be doomed to failure if they insist on wanting to stage the Games in September or October in order to avoid the extreme heat of the Qatari summer, which is why their World Cup might be played in winter.
I’m not sure if Baku is ready to host a multi-sport event like the Olympics just yet, but I think it’s a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ for the ex-Soviet state.
Azerbaijan has since stated its plan to join Georgia’s Euro 2020 bid.
Now, let’s look at what the three candidate cities have going for them.
This is Madrid’s third successive bid, having finished third behind London and Paris for 2012, and a distant runner-up to Rio de Janeiro for 2016.
Madrid also bid and for the 1972 Games but also finished as a distant second to Munich.
The city held the 1982 World Cup Final and the 1986 World Aquatics Championships.
Rival city Barcelona hosted the Olympics and Paralympics in 1992.
Tokyo bid for the 2016 Games but wound up finishing third and also failed in its bid to host the 1960 Games (joint fifth and last with Brussels and Mexico City).
Japan’s capital would have hosted the 1940 Games but were stripped of them after their 1937 invasion of China.
The Games were then awarded to Helsinki, but when war broke out in Europe the Olympics were suspended until 1948 (St. Moritz and London).
Tokyo eventually hosted the Games in 1964 as well as the 1972 and ’98 Winter Olympics in Sapporo and Nagano respectfully.
Japan co-hosted the 2002 World Cup with South Korea, and will host the 2019 Rugby Union World Cup.
Starting tomorrow (19 August), Japan is hosting the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Istanbul is the current favourite to win the 2020 bid according to GamesBids.com.
Neither Istanbul nor Turkey itself has ever hosted the Games, but the city did bid for every Games from 2000-2012.
Its best finish was fourth in the 2008 bid.
The city has three stadiums which UEFA classes as ‘Elite’ and hosted the 2005 Champions League Final, the 2010 Basketball World Championship and earlier this year it held the World Indoor Athletics Championships and World Short Course Swimming Championship.
Next year Turkey will host the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Now you’re probably tired of reading about what the cities have held in the past, so let’s see why they might not be awarded the Games.
The IOC likes to keep the Games global and not stuck in the same continent for too long.
Madrid may struggle because the 2012 Winter Youth and Summer, 2014 Winter and 2016 Winter Youth Games were/are in Europe (Innsbruck, London, Sochi and Lillehammer respectively).
Then of course there is the ongoing crisis that is Spain’s economy.
Tokyo’s problem is that the 2018 Winter Olympics will be in Pyeongchang (South Korea) and the 2010 and 2014 Summer Youth Games were/are in Singapore and Nanjing.
Istanbul, while not strictly in Europe, may be undone by Turkey’s bid for Euro 2020.
The IOC forbids a host nation from staging any other major sporting event in an Olympic year, but we will find out the hosts of the Games before the host of the Euro.
However the distraction will still be there.
The election of the host city will take place on 7 September 2013 at the 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires.
Delegates will also vote on whether to include one of the following sports: Baseball (Olympic event from 1992-2008), Karate, Roller Sports, Softball (1996-2008), Sport Climbing, Squash, Wakeboarding, Wushu and Beach Soccer.