WELCOME: International Olympic Committee officials attend a welcoming event in Tokyo ahead of the presentation of the city’s bid for the 2020 games, at a hotel in Tokyo on Monday, March 4 2013. Picture: REUTERS
LEGACY: The International Olympic Committee is in prospective 2020 host Tokyo this week to conduct on-site inspections, with Madrid and Istanbul to follow. Sebastian Coe, who headed the London organising committee, says the ‘why’ of the contenders’ bids is as important as the ‘how’. Picture: REUTERS

MADRID — Winning the right to host the 2020 Olympic Games will turn on the ability of the contenders, Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid, to provide a convincing reason for wanting to stage them, and not just proving they can, Sebastian Coe said on Tuesday.

Mapping out an attractive "games legacy" would be crucial to gaining the backing of International Olympic Committee (IOC) members at a vote in Buenos Aires in September, Coe, a former athlete and London 2012 organising committee chairman, told a Europa Press forum in Madrid.

"People get focused on the how, but being able to explain to people why you are doing this is really important," Coe said.

"Why does a city really want to deliver a games and what do they want to do with it? That’s what I think IOC members want to hear; it goes way beyond simply being able to deliver.

"The real issue for any organising committee is to figure out what the exit strategy is, and that’s a 10-year programme."

Coe, a vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations and widely seen as a future heavyweight in the Olympic movement, was careful to avoid making any comparison between the three bids.

Each city delivered its candidature files to the IOC in January and on-site inspections by an evaluation commission began in Tokyo this week.

Madrid is next, from March 18-21, followed by Istanbul from March 24-27, before the commission publishes a technical assessment at the beginning of July.

"The most critical stakeholder that any city has to deal with is of course the people that live in that city," Coe said.

"The fundamental question is why? How are you going to use the games for the future? You have to be clear what those legacy targets are," he said.

With the economy struggling and unemployment at record levels, many Spaniards are worried about the cost of hosting an Olympics, but Coe sought to reassure them, saying prior knowledge of the financial crisis would not have changed his mind about wanting the games for London.

Reuters