Bullish About Turkish Bid For Olympics

International Olympic Committee

The International Olympic Committee will spend four days in each of Instanbul, Madrid and Tokyo before deciding where the 2020 Games will be held.

With the International Olympic Committee voting to drop the sport of wrestling from the 2020 Olympic Games, now is time to turn the spotlight on the race to host that event.

What began as a five-city contest has been reduced to one between three cities, with Baku in Azerbaijan and Doha in Qatar failing to make the first cut, leaving Istanbul in Turkey, Tokyo in Japan and Madrid in Spain to compete for votes ahead of the 125th International Olympic Committee Session that will take place in early September 2013.

Believe it or not, there are two websites devoted to news pertaining to the Olympic movement and both of them – Around The Rings and GamesBids – boast indices that rate the worth of bids for summer and winter editions of the Games.

Based in Atlanta, the United States of America city that hosted the 1996 Olympic Games, Around The Rings has been reporting on the International Olympic Committee for more than 20 years, with its 2020 Power Index rating the bids of Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid across 11 categories, nine of which are worth a maximum of 10 points and two – ambience and last Games hosted – are worth a maximum of five points.

According to Around The Rings analysts, Tokyo is the 2020 Olympic Games frontrunner, scoring 77 points of a possible 100 in January 2013’s edition of the Power Index. Istanbul and Madrid both scored 73 points, although one should note that it was the Turkish bid that made the biggest gain.

Around The Rings assesses bids almost exclusively on their technical merits, with its 11 categories being ambience, accommodation, bid operation, finance, last Games, legacy, marketing, public support, security, transportation and venue plans. Naturally, bad technical bids do not win Olympic Games hosting rights but there is more to the process than simply having the best technical bid.

GamesBids, the brainchild of Canadian journalist Robert Livingstone, has been publishing Olympics news since 1998 and prides itself on the accuracy of its BidIndex, which is not intended to rate bids solely on their technical quality but on how they will perform based on International Olympic Committee voting patterns. According to GamesBids, history has shown that the best technical bids often do not win but other factors such as geopolitics usually have a big impact.

According to the latest BidIndex published on the GamesBids website, Istanbul leads the 2020 Olympic Games race on a score of 60.20 from Tokyo (59.92) and Madrid (55.10). Now, one should note that the latest BidIndex is nine months old but, if anything, the case for the Turkish bid has improved since May 2012 following the announcement of UEFA that the Euro 2020 football tournament will be staged in 13 cities across the Europe rather than in one nation such as Turkey.

The BidIndex picked the winners of the races to host the 2016 Olympic Games (Rio de Janeiro in Brazil) and 2018 Olympic Games (Pyeongchang in South Korea) so it has excellent recent form in the book. All that is missing is a recent update, something that cannot be all that far away.

But one should not wait for GamesBid to crunch the numbers for the second time. There is a clear value case for backing Istanbul at odds of around 11-5. Madrid is too short at odds of around 11-2 – the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games is a major negative against the Spanish bid, as is the poor state of Spain’s economy – and Tokyo is too short at odds on when Turkey’s largest city offers the chance to bring the world’s biggest sports event to a secular Muslim country for the first time, something that is central to Istanbul’s pitch.

Next month, the International Olympic Committee Evaluation Commission will visit Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul in that order, spending four days in each of the cities. July will see the candidates brief International Olympic Committee members in Lausanne, with the vote occurring in the Argentine city of Buenos Aires on 7 September.

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