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Tokyo wins 2020 Olympics over Istanbul, Madrid

Sep 7, 2013, 4:21 PM EDT

Tokyo 2020 Getty Images

The Games of the 32nd Olympiad will be in Tokyo.

The Japanese capital won a final-round vote over Istanbul and will host an Olympics for the second time in 2020. Tokyo also held the Games in 1964. Tokyo, which billed its bid as “a safe pair of hands,” won with 60 votes to Istanbul’s 36 from International Olympic Committee members.

“The Games of the 32nd Olympiad in 2020 are awarded to the city of … ,” IOC president Jacques Rogge said as he opened the envelope in Buenos Aires, Argentina. “Tokyo.”

Japan last hosted an Olympics in 1998 when Nagano had the Winter Games. Turkey had never hosted the Olympics. Istanbul was trying for the fifth time. The other finalist, Madrid, was eliminated in the first round of voting.

Tokyo also won the first round of voting with 42 votes, but did not get more than half the votes, so a second round had to be held between Tokyo and the second-place city. Istanbul and Madrid tied for second place with 26 each, so there was a tiebreaking vote between the two to see which would advance. That vote was won by Istanbul, which got 49 votes to Madrid’s 45.

“Tokyo presented a very strong technical bid from the outset — and it needed to in competition with two such high-caliber bids from Istanbul and Madrid,” Rogge, whose 12-year tenure in office ends Tuesday, said in an IOC press release. “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.”

Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of New York, similar to the time difference for the Beijing Games in 2008, which was 12 hours.

“Tokyo is one of the world’s most fascinating cities, and will provide a spectacular setting for the 2020 Olympic Games,” NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said in a statement. “Tokyo is particularly special to NBC as our rich Olympic heritage began there with the 1964 Olympic Games. We are excited to return in 2020 … to broadcast what will be our 17th Olympic Games overall and 11th consecutive, and to bring the stories and performances of the world’s greatest athletes home to American viewers.”

It is interesting that the tiebreaking vote was so close since, essentially, it was determined by the pro-Tokyo voters. If the Tokyo supporters were under a consensus as to which bid would be a preferred final-round opponent, it was not apparent in that slim four-vote margin.

Madrid’s elimination could be seen as a positive for Paris and Rome, two cities showing interest in the 2024 Olympics. Asia will hold back-to-back Games in 2018 and 2020, with Pyeongchang, South Korea, hosting the 2018 Winter Games.

The U.S. has been gauging interest in a possible 2024 bid and is expected to pick a city, if it chooses a bid, by the end of next year.

Tokyo’s win could be seen as a positive for baseball and softball, which is competing with squash and wrestling for one open spot in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics. Baseball and softball are very popular in Japan. That vote comes Sunday.

Sunday’s sport vote previews: Baseball-softball | Squash | Wrestling

Tokyo, the second of the three cities to make final presentations to the IOC on Saturday, spoke amid the backdrop of a slogan, “discover tomorrow.”

The Japanese imperial family made a rare appearance at an event such as an IOC session. Princess Takamado led the presentation.

“This may be the first time a member our family has addressed you, but the imperial family of Japan has always been active in sports,” she said.

Paralympian Mami Sato delivered an emotional speech, telling the story of how she was “saved by sport” after losing her right leg due to cancer at 19 years old. The 2011 tsunami and earthquake damaged her hometown, and she said she didn’t know for six days if the rest of her family was alive.

Tokyo 2020 also mentioned its clean record free of doping, illegal betting and match fixing. It mentioned three values — celebration, innovation and delivery — that add up to one word, “opportunity.”

Tokyo came in third place in the voting for 2016 but said it bettered its bid with a new Olympic stadium plan, where “every athlete can have a seat” for the opening ceremony. It said the Olympic village is bigger and in a better place, with a bed for every athlete.

“We have kept the best and improved the rest,” said a smiling Masato Mizuno, CEO of the bid committee.

Japanese TV presenter Christel Takigawa spoke of Tokyo’s “selfless hospitality,” which dates to its ancestors, mentioning that $30 million in lost money was turned into police last year.

“If you lose something, you will almost certainly get it back,” Takigawa said.

In the question-and-answer session, it was asked about the recent leak of radiation-contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear plant, 155 miles north of Tokyo. It marked the fifth and largest leak from the plant damaged by the 2011 tsunami.

“Let me assure you the situation is under control,” Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said. “It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.”

Istanbul was the first city to present to the IOC as rain pounded Buenos Aires on Saturday morning. It brought at least a dozen young athletes, potential 2020 Olympians, with it to the Buenos Aires Hilton. It emphasized the country’s youth and its melting pot of culture.

Çağla Büyükakçay, 23, the first Turkish woman to compete in a Grand Slam tennis tournament, said nearly half of Turkey’s population is under the age of 25.

“This is a new bid for a new Turkey,” bid leader Hasan Arat said.

Istanbul’s bid was about bridging together Asia and Europe. It hoped to bring the Olympics to a predominantly Muslim country for the first time, in the city’s fifth attempt to get the Games.

“No budget blowouts” and “no negative headlines,” were promised by Istanbul, which had plenty of issues this summer. More than 30 of its track and field athletes were suspended for positive drug tests. Outside sport, anti-government protests and the current civil war in neighboring Syria are concerning.

Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he flew 16 hours overnight from the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, to speak in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

“From Istanbul, the city of tolerance, we want to send a message as warm and sincere as the Olympic flame,” he said, calling Istanbul an “8,000-year city of tolerance and peace.”

Istanbul was pressed on doping during a question-and-answer session with IOC members. It emphasized zero tolerance, conveying a message that it was cleaning up.

“There is no gain without pain,” Turkey’s Olympic committee president Ugur Erdener said, adding that it didn’t establish an organized anti-doping organization in the country until two years ago.

Madrid, making its third straight attempt to win the Games, was the last city to make its presentation. It lined up an all-star team of athletes for its bid, including Lakers center Pau Gasol, who gave a speech.

Gasol spoke after a 77-second video where the phrase “makes sense” was said 10 times among a group of athletes that included soccer stars Andres IniestaIker CasillasSergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo (who is Portuguese but plays for Real Madrid) and Spanish national team coach Vicente del Bosque, tennis player Rafael Nadal and gymnast Gervasio Deferr.

“Even though I played many important finals in my career, I’m honored and a little bit nervous at the same time,” Gasol said. “What’s left for me to talk about that you haven’t already heard?”

Gasol told a story of a phone call he received in the middle of the night months ago. He didn’t listen to the voicemail until the morning. It was the Crown Prince of Spain who called, asking Gasol to help with the bid.

“Madrid 2020 understands that sport is a human right, and that every kid in the world deserves a chance to play,” Gasol went on to say. “You will find no greater partner for the next seven years than the people of Spain.”

Madrid’s delegation, decked out in red, quoted the previous IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, who unsuccessfully lobbied for Madrid to get the 2016 Games and passed away seven months after Rio won the vote.

Madrid boasted that 80 percent of the venues were already in place, that it was a “no risk” bid.

Of Spain’s struggling economy, Crown Prince Felipe said, “I don’t see this as a threat to Olympism.”

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