Skip to content

Tokyo’s chances of hosting 2020 Olympics

Sep 6, 2013, 1:37 PM EDT

Tokyo 2020 AP

The International Olympic Committee will make the first of three major votes at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday.

Nearly 100 IOC members will choose the host city of the 2020 Olympics — Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo — via secret ballot beginning at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time with the winner scheduled to be announced between 4 and 4:30. For more on what happens Saturday, click here.

OlympicTalk will look at the chances each city has of winning the vote. Here is a rundown of Tokyo:

IOC president Jacques Rogge will take the stage at the Buenos Aires Hilton on Saturday afternoon and announce an Olympic host city one last time. Will it go like this …

“The Games of the 32nd Olympiad are awarded to the city of … (opens envelope) … Tokyo.”

The oddsmakers say it likely will. The Associated Press called the Japanese capital a “slight favorite.” A complex mathematical formula on a website dedicated to predicting Olympic bid cities spit out Tokyo at No. 1, too.

Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, isn’t as sexy of a pick as Istanbul. It doesn’t have as much bidding experience or IOC influence as Madrid. But it is steady, with $4.5 billion in the bank and without the unrest of Turkey (and its neighbor Syria) and the economic problems of Spain.

“Discover Tomorrow” is its slogan. It may just be in the driver’s seat after bowing out in third place in the 2016 Olympic bidding, but, as Paris 2012 can attest, that’s not always the best place to be.

“There is a sense of nervous energy as we close in on a six-year dream,” Tokyo 2020 leader Tsunekazu Takeda recently told reporters. “We live in challenging and rapidly changing times, and Tokyo’s is the best bid to deliver a dynamic Games in this climate.”

Istanbul’s chances | Madrid’s chances

There is potential to dash that dream. There’s the fact that the 2018 Winter Games are in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Does the IOC want back-to-back Asia Games?

Or the threat of an earthquake or a tsunami and the growing storyline of the leak of radiation-contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear plant, 155 miles north of Tokyo. Takeda has said Tokyo’s air and water were unaffected by the fifth and largest leak since the plant was damaged by a 2011 tsunami.

Robert Livingstone, who produces the Olympic host city vote prediction website GamesBids.com, has Tokyo as a slight favorite over Istanbul. He said the Fukushima story is a concern but called it a “bit of a red herring.”

“The IOC knows these issues, knows it will be taken care of,” Livingstone said, noting the Olympics are still seven years down the road. “Tokyo has a really good plan, a compact plan. They developed it, did a decent job last time and improved on that plan.”

Wrestling tries to stay in Olympics | Squash’s hopes

In Japan, public support has jumped, from around 50 percent last year to about 70 (IOC poll) or 90 (Tokyo 2020 poll) today. A lack of backing back home hurt its bid for 2016. Much of the infrastructure that would be used in 2020 is already in place with a strong public transport system.

The IOC called Tokyo “a modern, dynamic city that sets global trends and, at the same time, has a strong respect for its history and culture” in its evaluation commission report in April.

“Our bid has strong and passionate public support and is united across all levels of government, sport and business,” Takeda said, “and is ready to deliver outstanding Games that will showcase the importance and inspirational power of sport.”

Key information for IOC session in Buenos Aires

Follow @nzaccardi

Latest Posts
  1. Another Michael set to make splash at Mesa Grand Prix

    Apr 23, 2014, 2:18 PM EDT

    Michael Phelps, Michael Andrew Courtesy Tina Andrew

    Michael Andrew, 15, turned pro last year and has been drawing comparisons to Michael Phelps.

  2. Michael Phelps’ comeback at Mesa Grand Prix competition, broadcast schedules

    Apr 23, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT

    Michael Phelps AP

    When to watch Michael Phelps’ return to competition.

  3. Meb Keflezighi congratulated by President Obama

    Apr 22, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    Meb Keflezighi AP

    How Keflezighi spent the morning after his upset victory.

  4. Ryan Hall, other U.S. runners wouldn’t help East Africans catch Meb Keflezighi

    Apr 22, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT

    Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi AP

    Americans’ tactic played small role in Keflezighi’s victory.

  5. Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski added to NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage

    Apr 22, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT

    Johnny Weir, Tara Lipinski Getty Images

    Sochi figure skating analysts will be fashion experts at Churchill Downs.

  6. Apolo Ohno plans to do Ironman World Championships

    Apr 22, 2014, 10:11 AM EDT

    Apolo Anton Ohno AP

    Ohno follows NFL wide receiver, celebrity chef in ambitious attempt.

  7. Lance Armstrong’s longtime team manager banned 10 years

    Apr 22, 2014, 8:21 AM EDT

    Johan Bruyneel AP

    Johan Bruyneel guided Lance Armstrong’s teams for all seven stripped Tour de France wins.

  8. Emotions flow for runners, spectators at Boston Marathon

    Apr 21, 2014, 8:42 PM EDT

    Boston Strong AP

    “I needed it for healing,” one survivor said.

  9. Meb Keflezighi stuns to win Boston Marathon (video)

    Apr 21, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Meb Keflezighi AP

    First U.S. man to win Boston Marathon since 1983.

  10. 2014 Boston Marathon highlights: American Meb Keflezighi, Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo win (VIDEO)

    Apr 21, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    2014 B.A.A. Boston Marathon Getty Images

    Meb Keflezighi made history on an emotional day at the 2014 Boston Marathon by becoming the first American man to win the race since 1983. Watch highlights of the 38-year-old Keflezighi’s victory here, courtesy of Universal Sports: Keflezighi reacts to his historic win and the emotion of winning one year after the Boston Marathon bombing,…

  11. Rita Jeptoo repeats as Boston Marathon winner in course record

    Apr 21, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT

    Rita Jeptoo Getty Images

    Shalane Flanagan led early but was dropped around 21 miles.

  12. Tatyana McFadden wins another Boston Marathon on special day

    Apr 21, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT

    Tatyana McFadden AP

    Paralympic champion prevails one month after winning silver in Sochi.

  13. Security heightened early at Boston Marathon

    Apr 21, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

    Boston Marathon AP

    Double the police presence from last year.

  14. Tedy Bruschi, retired NFL player, running Boston Marathon

    Apr 21, 2014, 9:38 AM EDT

    Tedy Bruschi Getty Images

    Former linebacker ran in 2012 and saw the first bomb from a hotel last year.

  15. Boston Marathon starts after moment of silence

    Apr 21, 2014, 9:07 AM EDT

    Boston Strong

    Race starts by honoring those lost and those who saved at last year’s race.

  16. Boston Marathon finish line web cam available online

    Apr 19, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Boston Marathon finish line Getty Images

    Watch every runner cross the finish line on Monday.

  17. Ryan Hall returns to marathon racing in Boston, by way of Ethiopia

    Apr 19, 2014, 11:41 AM EDT

    Ryan Hall Getty Images

    Two-time Olympian hasn’t run a marathon since the London Games.

  18. Boston Marathon to move forward with traditional spectacle of a finish

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:41 PM EDT

    Boston Marathon

    All eyes will be on a changed Boylston Street on Monday.

  19. Boston Marathon TV, race schedules

    Apr 18, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Boston Marathon finish line Getty Images

    Universal Sports will have live coverage and is on a free preview nationwide.

  20. Boston Marathon men’s preview

    Apr 18, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Lelisa Desisa AP

    Monday’s race figures to come down to two men.

Featured video

Inside Michael Phelps' comeback