December 10, 2013
OlympicsSaturday, August 31, 2013
Important decisions in Buenos Aires
Rarely, if ever, has so much been on the line at a single Olympic meeting. When International Olympic Committee members gather next week in Buenos Aires, they will be faced with three decisions that will shape the direction of the Olympic movement for the next decade.
At stake: Choosing the host city of the 2020 Olympics, electing a new IOC president to succeed Jacques Rogge and selecting one sport to add to the 2020 programme. The favorites: Tokyo, Thomas Bach and wrestling.
The first big vote comes on September 7 with a secret ballot on the 2020 host city.
It’s a three-way contest between Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul. All three are repeat candidates: Istanbul is making its fifth overall bid, Madrid a third and Tokyo a second in a row.
Tokyo is seen as a slight front-runner, though the leak of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant is causing concern. Madrid, once counted out because of Spain’s economic crisis, has picked up momentum and now looks like a legitimate challenger. Istanbul has slipped following the anti-government protests and doping scandals in Turkey and the escalating war in neighbouring Syria.
With each bid facing political, economic or other drawbacks, the winner could be determined not for its positive attributes but for having fewer weaknesses than its rivals.
Istanbul would bring the games to a new part of the world, to a predominantly Muslim country for the first time, to a city linking Europe and Asia. Madrid has most of the venues ready and would spend the least. Tokyo offers safety and reliability at a time of global uncertainty. In the end, the decision could centre on which city offers the least risk.
Three days after choosing the host city, the IOC will pick a leader who will lead the organization through the 2020 Games for a term of eight years. Making up the record six-man field are IOC vice president Bach of Germany; vice president Ng Ser Miang of Singapore; finance commission chairman Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico; executive board members Sergei Bubka of Ukraine and C.K. Wu of Taiwan; and former board member Oswald, apart from incubent Rogge.