Istanbul, Tokyo, Madrid Make 2020 Olympics List; Doha, Baku Cut

Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid will compete to host the 2020 Olympic Games after Doha and Baku were dropped from the list of applicants.

The International Olympic Committee announced the shortlist yesterday at its executive board meeting in Quebec City. The winner will be elected Sept. 7, 2013, in Buenos Aires.

The three remaining candidates have 15 months to lobby for votes and impress the IOC’s evaluation commission, which will compile a detailed technical assessment and report on each bid for IOC members to review in July 2013.

“We’re just at the starting line,” Shintaro Ishihara, governor of Tokyo and chairman of the city’s 2020 council, told reporters in the Japanese capital today. “The real battle starts here.”

Tokyo, which is bidding for the second time in a row, is the only shortlisted candidate to have hosted an Olympic Games, in 1964. Madrid, which lost out to Rio de Janeiro in the final round of voting for the 2016 Olympics, is bidding for a third consecutive time and Istanbul a fifth time overall.

Doha, the capital of Qatar, and Baku in Azerbaijan were rejected for a second straight time after failing to make the final list of contenders to host the 2016 games. Qatar in 2010 won the bidding to stage the 2022 soccer World Cup.

The IOC’s working group report on the five bids concluded that Baku’s infrastructure and experience in hosting major sports events “are not sufficiently developed at this stage to deliver a successful Olympic Games in 2020.” Doha’s bid to host the Olympics two years before the soccer World Cup “presents significant challenges and risks,” the working group said.

‘Take Stock’

“We will study the IOC report, reflect on its findings and take stock as part of our own reflections regarding our ambition to bring the Games to the Middle East for the first time,” Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, general secretary of the Qatar Olympic Committee, said in a statement.

The working group concluded that Tokyo “presents a very strong application and offers athletes the conditions to be able to compete at their best.”

Tokyo has put aside about 400 billion yen ($5 billion) to ensure enough funding for the Summer Games and would build 20 new venues for the Olympics. Japan, which built the Tokyo-Osaka bullet train for the opening of the 1964 Games, would place 28 out of 31 competition sites within 8 kilometers (5 miles) of the Olympic Village to ensure ease of travel.

“We have kept the best and improved the rest from our previous bid,” Tokyo 2020 bid president Tsunekazu Takeda said in a statement.

The IOC said the three candidate cities will need to submit a new file with an “in-depth description of their Olympic project” by Jan. 7 and prepare for visits by its evaluation commission starting in February.

To contact the reporters on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net; Chris Cooper in Tokyo at ccooper1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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