PARIS - The three candidates to host the 2020 Olympics will take a huge step on the road to who will be designated the winner in Buenos Aires on September 7 when they present their candidature files to the International Olympic Committee on Monday in Lausanne.
Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo will all be sending high profile delegations to hand over their dossiers which have been painstakingly put together and will be hoping the details meet with the approval of the majority of the 100 plus IOC members when they vote in eight months' time.
With IOC members visits a thing of the past, since the reforms brought in following the Salt Lake City bribes for votes scandal, the dossier will be carefully studied before the all-important visit of the IOC Evaluation Commission, headed by IOC Vice-president Craig Reedie, to the three cities for four day visits in March.
The common perception has been that Istanbul has a fantastic chance to become the first country with a majority Muslim population to host the Games and has made great play on being situated on two continents.
"The athletes will have the unique experience of sleeping on the European continent and competing on the Asian continent," their chief executive Hasan Arat told AFP.
Now their emotive and effective message will have to be backed up by the facts in the dossier if they are to maintain momentum in what is the most competitive of the five bids the city has put up.
Istanbul too is making great play out of their relative upbeat economic situation exemplified by a record breaking mark on their stock exchange just before the New Year which edged over the 78,000 points mark.
Turkey's government is aiming to take the country into the top ten world economies by GDP in time for the republic's 2023 centenary, and in 2012 Turkey's credit rating was upgraded to 'Investment Grade'.
"This news proves that our spectacular Games vision is founded on an economy that offers delivery security and the capacity to take the Olympic Movement forward in partnership with the IOC," said Arat.
Tokyo, who are the only one of the three cities to have previously hosted the Games in 1964, have been seen as the main rivals to Istanbul and importantly received the full backing of the newly-elected national government.
"I was elected in Tokyo, so this bid means very much to me," said Hakubun Shimomura, the new Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, after meeting with members of the bid team.
"I plan on attending the Candidature File submission press conference in Tokyo (January 8) to reiterate the unequivocal support our newly formed national government will continue to provide the bid."
Madrid too will travel in a confident frame of mind.
Despite having had people question their ability to host the Games, given the parlous state of Spain's finances, they have a ready answer as their bid leader Alejandro Blanco told AFP last year.
"Some host cities were in a totally different economic situation when they were awarded the Games to when they actually delivered them," he said.
"To my mind, it's not how you start that matters so much, but how you end.
"And the fact that Madrid already has about 80 percent of the necessary infrastructures in place -- including the airport, ring roads and underground -- is a solid guarantee of stability.
"Our investments will be reduced to the minimum. We also have the full support of the Spanish, regional and local governments and will travel the whole way with them hand in hand."
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