Three cities have presented bids for the 2020 Olympics. Tokyo appeared to have a slight advantage over Madrid and Istanbul ahead of Wednesday's pitch.
Each city had 90 minutes behind closed doors to make its pitch and answer questions from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Apart from members of an official evaluation committee, those making the decision may not visit the bidder cities before the IOC announces its winner.
It appeared that bidders from Istanbul, now applying for the fifth time to host the Olympics, would face questions about Turkey's current anti-government protests. "Although the games will be seven years ahead, what's going on right now is important to the voting of the members," said senior Norwegian IOC member Gerhard Heiberg. "There will be many questions, absolutely. This is a good opportunity for Turkey, for Istanbul, to answer the questions and lay it out in the open how they think; what they're going to do about it."
Though none of the three cities can win or lose at the technical presentation, it does give them an ideal opportunity to soothe the doubts of IOC members. The decisive vote comes on September 7 in Buenos Aires.
Madrid, in its third straight bid, would likely have to answer for Spain's troubled economy. The city received a minor thumbs-up in a report released by the evaluation commission.
"As the additional investment required to deliver the games is relatively modest, the commission believes that Spanish economy should be able to support the delivery of the games," the report read.
The commission decided in the report, published last week, that the modest budget of 2.37 billion euros ($3.10 billion) for fulfilling the remaining building work would suffice.
Tokyohosted the Olympics in 1964 and has embarked on its second attempt to stage them again. While making the final decision in Buenos Aires, delegates are also set to vote for a new IOC president September 10, as Jacques Rogge's 12-year tenure comes to an end.
IOC vice presidents Thomas Bach (Germany) and Ng Ser Miang (Singapore) and executive board members Sergei Bubka (Ukraine) and CK Wu (Taiwan), Richard Carrion (Puerto Rico) and Denis Oswald (Switzerland) have all applied. The candidates will have 15 minutes each to make their cases Thursday but under strict rules, with only a speech and no visual effects such as photos or videos allowed, and question from IOC members also not possible.
mkg/rc (AFP, AP, dpa)