Tokyo 2020

Tokyo’s chances of hosting 2020 Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee will make the first of three major votes at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday.

Nearly 100 IOC members will choose the host city of the 2020 Olympics — Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo — via secret ballot beginning at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time with the winner scheduled to be announced between 4 and 4:30. For more on what happens Saturday, click here.

OlympicTalk will look at the chances each city has of winning the vote. Here is a rundown of Tokyo:

IOC president Jacques Rogge will take the stage at the Buenos Aires Hilton on Saturday afternoon and announce an Olympic host city one last time. Will it go like this …

“The Games of the 32nd Olympiad are awarded to the city of … (opens envelope) … Tokyo.”

The oddsmakers say it likely will. The Associated Press called the Japanese capital a “slight favorite.” A complex mathematical formula on a website dedicated to predicting Olympic bid cities spit out Tokyo at No. 1, too.

Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, isn’t as sexy of a pick as Istanbul. It doesn’t have as much bidding experience or IOC influence as Madrid. But it is steady, with $4.5 billion in the bank and without the unrest of Turkey (and its neighbor Syria) and the economic problems of Spain.

“Discover Tomorrow” is its slogan. It may just be in the driver’s seat after bowing out in third place in the 2016 Olympic bidding, but, as Paris 2012 can attest, that’s not always the best place to be.

“There is a sense of nervous energy as we close in on a six-year dream,” Tokyo 2020 leader Tsunekazu Takeda recently told reporters. “We live in challenging and rapidly changing times, and Tokyo’s is the best bid to deliver a dynamic Games in this climate.”

Istanbul’s chances | Madrid’s chances

There is potential to dash that dream. There’s the fact that the 2018 Winter Games are in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Does the IOC want back-to-back Asia Games?

Or the threat of an earthquake or a tsunami and the growing storyline of the leak of radiation-contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear plant, 155 miles north of Tokyo. Takeda has said Tokyo’s air and water were unaffected by the fifth and largest leak since the plant was damaged by a 2011 tsunami.

Robert Livingstone, who produces the Olympic host city vote prediction website GamesBids.com, has Tokyo as a slight favorite over Istanbul. He said the Fukushima story is a concern but called it a “bit of a red herring.”

“The IOC knows these issues, knows it will be taken care of,” Livingstone said, noting the Olympics are still seven years down the road. “Tokyo has a really good plan, a compact plan. They developed it, did a decent job last time and improved on that plan.”

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In Japan, public support has jumped, from around 50 percent last year to about 70 (IOC poll) or 90 (Tokyo 2020 poll) today. A lack of backing back home hurt its bid for 2016. Much of the infrastructure that would be used in 2020 is already in place with a strong public transport system.

The IOC called Tokyo “a modern, dynamic city that sets global trends and, at the same time, has a strong respect for its history and culture” in its evaluation commission report in April.

“Our bid has strong and passionate public support and is united across all levels of government, sport and business,” Takeda said, “and is ready to deliver outstanding Games that will showcase the importance and inspirational power of sport.”

Key information for IOC session in Buenos Aires

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No NHL players means more mistakes and goals at Olympics

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Hockey is a game of mistakes and it’s on display in fine form at the Olympics.

It doesn’t look beautiful, of course, with players all outside the NHL turning the puck over for point-blank scoring chances or leaving opponents wide open in front. The talent level is lower, so the risk factors and the entertainment level are up. Goaltenders have to be on their toes for unexpected, game-saving stops even more than usual.

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“It’s a short tournament: A few mistakes can decide your fate,” Finland goaltender Karri Ramo said Saturday. “You try to create more than carry it out of the zone, so obviously teams are trying to keep the puck and create scoring chances, so those mistakes happen. You’re not going to win if you play safe.”

There’s not a whole lot of safe, low-risk play so far, and scoring has increased as a result. After each team played twice, games were averaging 5.1 goals, up from 4.7 in Sochi with NHL players on the rosters.

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Ligety exits quietly, Hirscher brilliant again

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Marcel Hirscher, the Austrian ski god, is finally having his moment. King of the World Cup tour for the past seven seasons, on Sunday Hirscher won his second Olympic gold, in the giant slalom.

Hirscher had won a grand total of no Olympic medals, nada, zip, zero in two prior Games. Now he might — could, should — win three here at PyeongChang. The slalom, another Hirscher specialty, is due to be run Thursday.

To watch Hirscher ski is to watch one of the great athletes of our — or any — time. Like being courtside in Chicago to see Michael Jordan back in the day. At Wimbledon for a Roger Federer volley. At the Water Cube in Beijing in 2008 when Michael Phelps was swimming the butterfly.

In Sunday’s race, Kristoffersen finished second, 1.27 seconds back of Hirscher. Pinturault finished third, 1.31 behind.

American racer Ted Ligety used to own this event: the Sochi 2014 giant slalom gold medalist, he was world champion in 2011, 2013 and 2015. Pinturault took Sochi 2014 bronze.

Considering his relatively low slalom ranking and the pounding that slalom demands, Sunday’s GS was — just like that, that quickly, that quietly — likely the final race of Ligety’s outstanding Olympic career.

“This is probably it for me at these Games,” he said after run two, adding that he is planning to head back to Europe, to race the remainder of the World Cup season.

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