CONCERNED: International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has been assured the Indian Olympic body will not tolerate political interference. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Jacques Rogge. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

ELECTIONEERING fever will hit the Swiss city of Lausanne this week as the three cities bidding for the right to host the 2020 Summer Olympics and the six men vying to succeed Jacques Rogge as International Olympic Committee (IOC) president will make presentations to their electorate, the IOC members.

While both those final decisions will come in September in Buenos Aires — on September 7 for the city and on September 10 for the presidency — the host of the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, one of Rogge’s innovations during his 12-year reign, will be designated in a vote tomorrow.

The 2020 Games bid teams from Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo will approach their presentations on Wednesday all in relatively good heart, emboldened by positive assessments by the IOC evaluation commission last week.

Istanbul will be keen to see that its message about being a bridge to different cultures, religions and generations returns to centre stage after an uncomfortable period when mass street protests throughout Turkey threatened to destabilise its bid.

Aside from that, the question marks raised by the commission over transport congestion in the city could arise again from other members. However, Istanbul’s energetic CE, Hasan Arat, believes solving that problem is already well in hand.

"With regards to transport, the report also states that we have significantly improved public transport and we have enough funding to continue on the other projects," he said last week.

Madrid will have an even greater spring in its step and justifiably so after the evaluation commission gave it the thumbs up over its relatively modest planned budget for remaining building work should it get the games.

The commission said it was confident the modest budget of €2.37bn for fulfilling the remaining building work was feasible.

"As the additional investment required to deliver the games is relatively modest, the commission believes the Spanish economy should be able to support the delivery of the games," the commission wrote in its report.

While the economic problems bedevilling the country will not be solved any time soon, the bid team can at least regard that factor posing a constant question mark over the city’s viability as a candidate as being laid to rest.

"Madrid is very much a live candidate to win the right to host the games," one IOC source said.

"They have 28 of the 35 venues built, the infrastructure is in place and they are running an effective campaign," the source said.

Tokyo, the only one of the three to have previously hosted the games, in 1964, still appears to be the favourite after a glowing report from the commission, but question marks remain over whether its campaign has sufficiently captivated the members.

The report, though, lauded the city’s plans.

Tokyo intends to use "the power of sport" to offer hope to the Japanese people and promote national spirit, unity and confidence," in particular after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the report said.

The six contenders to replace Rogge — after a largely successful and peaceful presidency — will outline their vision for taking the movement forward after Rogge has been replaced.

Cracking down on illegal gambling and doping, plus an emphasis on educating the young in Olympic ideals, are high on many of their lists while several are keen to see the Olympic Games kept to a reasonable size and not getting bigger and more expensive to host.

Sapa-AFP