Tokyo 2020

Tokyo wins 2020 Olympics over Istanbul, Madrid

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The Games of the 32nd Olympiad will be in Tokyo.

The Japanese capital won a final-round vote over Istanbul and will host an Olympics for the second time in 2020. Tokyo also held the Games in 1964. Tokyo, which billed its bid as “a safe pair of hands,” won with 60 votes to Istanbul’s 36 from International Olympic Committee members.

“The Games of the 32nd Olympiad in 2020 are awarded to the city of … ,” IOC president Jacques Rogge said as he opened the envelope in Buenos Aires, Argentina. “Tokyo.”

Japan last hosted an Olympics in 1998 when Nagano had the Winter Games. Turkey had never hosted the Olympics. Istanbul was trying for the fifth time. The other finalist, Madrid, was eliminated in the first round of voting.

Tokyo also won the first round of voting with 42 votes, but did not get more than half the votes, so a second round had to be held between Tokyo and the second-place city. Istanbul and Madrid tied for second place with 26 each, so there was a tiebreaking vote between the two to see which would advance. That vote was won by Istanbul, which got 49 votes to Madrid’s 45.

“Tokyo presented a very strong technical bid from the outset — and it needed to in competition with two such high-caliber bids from Istanbul and Madrid,” Rogge, whose 12-year tenure in office ends Tuesday, said in an IOC press release. “All three cities were capable of staging excellent Games in 2020, but in the end it was Tokyo’s bid that resonated the most with the IOC membership, inviting us to ‘discover tomorrow’ by delivering a well-organised and safe Games that will reinforce the Olympic values while demonstrating the benefits of sport to a new generation.”

Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of New York, similar to the time difference for the Beijing Games in 2008, which was 12 hours.

“Tokyo is one of the world’s most fascinating cities, and will provide a spectacular setting for the 2020 Olympic Games,” NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said in a statement. “Tokyo is particularly special to NBC as our rich Olympic heritage began there with the 1964 Olympic Games. We are excited to return in 2020 … to broadcast what will be our 17th Olympic Games overall and 11th consecutive, and to bring the stories and performances of the world’s greatest athletes home to American viewers.”

It is interesting that the tiebreaking vote was so close since, essentially, it was determined by the pro-Tokyo voters. If the Tokyo supporters were under a consensus as to which bid would be a preferred final-round opponent, it was not apparent in that slim four-vote margin.

Madrid’s elimination could be seen as a positive for Paris and Rome, two cities showing interest in the 2024 Olympics. Asia will hold back-to-back Games in 2018 and 2020, with Pyeongchang, South Korea, hosting the 2018 Winter Games.

The U.S. has been gauging interest in a possible 2024 bid and is expected to pick a city, if it chooses a bid, by the end of next year.

Tokyo’s win could be seen as a positive for baseball and softball, which is competing with squash and wrestling for one open spot in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics. Baseball and softball are very popular in Japan. That vote comes Sunday.

Sunday’s sport vote previews: Baseball-softball | Squash | Wrestling

Tokyo, the second of the three cities to make final presentations to the IOC on Saturday, spoke amid the backdrop of a slogan, “discover tomorrow.”

The Japanese imperial family made a rare appearance at an event such as an IOC session. Princess Takamado led the presentation.

“This may be the first time a member our family has addressed you, but the imperial family of Japan has always been active in sports,” she said.

Paralympian Mami Sato delivered an emotional speech, telling the story of how she was “saved by sport” after losing her right leg due to cancer at 19 years old. The 2011 tsunami and earthquake damaged her hometown, and she said she didn’t know for six days if the rest of her family was alive.

Tokyo 2020 also mentioned its clean record free of doping, illegal betting and match fixing. It mentioned three values — celebration, innovation and delivery — that add up to one word, “opportunity.”

Tokyo came in third place in the voting for 2016 but said it bettered its bid with a new Olympic stadium plan, where “every athlete can have a seat” for the opening ceremony. It said the Olympic village is bigger and in a better place, with a bed for every athlete.

“We have kept the best and improved the rest,” said a smiling Masato Mizuno, CEO of the bid committee.

Japanese TV presenter Christel Takigawa spoke of Tokyo’s “selfless hospitality,” which dates to its ancestors, mentioning that $30 million in lost money was turned into police last year.

“If you lose something, you will almost certainly get it back,” Takigawa said.

In the question-and-answer session, it was asked about the recent leak of radiation-contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear plant, 155 miles north of Tokyo. It marked the fifth and largest leak from the plant damaged by the 2011 tsunami.

“Let me assure you the situation is under control,” Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said. “It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.”

Istanbul was the first city to present to the IOC as rain pounded Buenos Aires on Saturday morning. It brought at least a dozen young athletes, potential 2020 Olympians, with it to the Buenos Aires Hilton. It emphasized the country’s youth and its melting pot of culture.

Çağla Büyükakçay, 23, the first Turkish woman to compete in a Grand Slam tennis tournament, said nearly half of Turkey’s population is under the age of 25.

“This is a new bid for a new Turkey,” bid leader Hasan Arat said.

Istanbul’s bid was about bridging together Asia and Europe. It hoped to bring the Olympics to a predominantly Muslim country for the first time, in the city’s fifth attempt to get the Games.

“No budget blowouts” and “no negative headlines,” were promised by Istanbul, which had plenty of issues this summer. More than 30 of its track and field athletes were suspended for positive drug tests. Outside sport, anti-government protests and the current civil war in neighboring Syria are concerning.

Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he flew 16 hours overnight from the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, to speak in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

“From Istanbul, the city of tolerance, we want to send a message as warm and sincere as the Olympic flame,” he said, calling Istanbul an “8,000-year city of tolerance and peace.”

Istanbul was pressed on doping during a question-and-answer session with IOC members. It emphasized zero tolerance, conveying a message that it was cleaning up.

“There is no gain without pain,” Turkey’s Olympic committee president Ugur Erdener said, adding that it didn’t establish an organized anti-doping organization in the country until two years ago.

Madrid, making its third straight attempt to win the Games, was the last city to make its presentation. It lined up an all-star team of athletes for its bid, including Lakers center Pau Gasol, who gave a speech.

Gasol spoke after a 77-second video where the phrase “makes sense” was said 10 times among a group of athletes that included soccer stars Andres IniestaIker CasillasSergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo (who is Portuguese but plays for Real Madrid) and Spanish national team coach Vicente del Bosque, tennis player Rafael Nadal and gymnast Gervasio Deferr.

“Even though I played many important finals in my career, I’m honored and a little bit nervous at the same time,” Gasol said. “What’s left for me to talk about that you haven’t already heard?”

Gasol told a story of a phone call he received in the middle of the night months ago. He didn’t listen to the voicemail until the morning. It was the Crown Prince of Spain who called, asking Gasol to help with the bid.

“Madrid 2020 understands that sport is a human right, and that every kid in the world deserves a chance to play,” Gasol went on to say. “You will find no greater partner for the next seven years than the people of Spain.”

Madrid’s delegation, decked out in red, quoted the previous IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, who unsuccessfully lobbied for Madrid to get the 2016 Games and passed away seven months after Rio won the vote.

Madrid boasted that 80 percent of the venues were already in place, that it was a “no risk” bid.

Of Spain’s struggling economy, Crown Prince Felipe said, “I don’t see this as a threat to Olympism.”

Russian skeleton stars banned from World Cups

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The two Russians who had their medals from the Sochi Olympics stripped because of doping have been barred from competing in World Cup races, at least temporarily.

It’s the latest sanction against Alexander Tretiyakov and Elena Nikitina, who had their medals — gold for Tretiyakov, bronze for Nikitina — taken away Wednesday after it was determined they were part of Russia’s state-sponsored doping program for Sochi.

They have already been banned from future Olympics and now may have no place to slide.

The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation handed down the suspensions Thursday, effective immediately.

Tretiyakov and Nikitina were both planning to compete in World Cup races at Whistler, B.C., this weekend.

In all, four Russians have been suspended by the IBSF.

Along with Tretiyakov and Nikitina, Maria Orlova and Olga Potylitsyna — who have been racing on the lesser-tier Intercontinental Cup Circuit this season — were also banned, just as they were by the IOC.

All four are expected to appeal, and the IBSF said they will be entitled to a hearing if that happens.

“Sport is all about who’s the best on that day and if anything compromises that, like the situations in Sochi, it taints everything and kind of undermines the fundamental belief in the system and the competition itself,” said USA Bobsled and Skeleton CEO Darrin Steele, also is a vice president with the IBSF. “This is kind of righting the ship.”

The IBSF’s decision is a strong one and is in stark contrast to one made by the International Ski Federation (FIS), which is allowing Russian cross-country skiers found guilty of doping in Sochi to compete in World Cup events this weekend.

FIS wants to see detailed reasons why the IOC disciplinary panel reached its decisions about the Russian athletes.

The IBSF isn’t waiting.

“I understand that it was a difference of culture and that the Russians don’t believe they did anything wrong,” U.S. skeleton veteran Katie Uhlaender said after the IOC decision to strip the medals and issue the Olympic bans was announced Wednesday. “But this was the only way to fix it.”

Uhlaender should be promoted to the bronze medal spot once Nikitina, as the IOC has ordered, surrenders what had been her bronze from Sochi.

Tretiyakov was the men’s gold medalist; the revised results for that event would have Latvia’s Martins Dukurs getting gold, Matt Antoine of the U.S. bumped up to silver and Latvia’s Tomass Dukurs, Martins’ brother, taking bronze.

Uhlaender, originally fourth, would be third behind gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold of Britain and silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace of the U.S.

Sliders lauded the IOC for doing the right thing, though noted that racers like Uhlaender and Tomass Dukurs — even once they have medals in hand — will never be able to replicate the moment on a podium that they should have had in Sochi.

“Having the physical medal’s cool, but most of it in my opinion is the experience of everything that happens,” Antoine said. “That’s what you cherish the most.”

Not having the top Russians on the World Cup circuit figures to have a major impact on the points standings.

Nikitina leads after the first two races of the season, including a win last weekend in Park City, Utah.

Tretiyakov is fourth in the men’s standings, including a bronze at the season opener in Lake Placid, N.Y.

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Russian skiers banned from Olympics allowed to race World Cup opener

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GENEVA (AP) — Russian cross-country skiers found guilty of doping at the Sochi Olympics can compete in World Cup races this weekend because the International Ski Federation (FIS) has been unable to prosecute its own cases in time.

Six Russians, including two Sochi medalists, were retroactively disqualified from the Winter Games this month and banned from the Olympics for life by the IOC.

FIS previously blocked all six from competing with interim suspensions, but those expired on Oct. 31. The International Olympic Committee judging panel then reached its verdicts this month.

However, FIS said Thursday that its own judicial body lacks key IOC documents to process cases.

“Consequently, the FIS Doping Panel is obliged to wait until the IOC Disciplinary Commission reasoned decisions are submitted with details of the evidence relied on,” said the governing body, which is responsible for imposing competition bans.

“As a consequence the active athletes are eligible to compete in FIS including World Cup competitions for the time being,” FIS said.

The World Cup season for men and women begins Friday in Ruka, Finland, with sprint and long-distance racing.

Organizers had not published starting lists Thursday for the three-day meeting and it was unclear which of the six intend to start.

Alexander Legkov and Maxim Vylegzhanin both won multiple medals in Sochi but were stripped by the IOC. The others suspended by the IOC were Evgeny Belov, Alexei Petukhov, Yulia Ivanova and Evgenia Shapovalova.

FIS said rules governed by the World Anti-Doping Agency meant it could not re-impose interim bans without “a specific allegation” plus evidence.

Attempting to assure cross-country skiers they will not be competing against doped rivals, FIS said an additional and independent testing program for Russians has been in operation since June and has taken about 250 blood and urine samples.

The three-man IOC disciplinary panel — chaired by Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer and member of the Olympic body’s executive board — has not issued detailed reasons for judgments in 10 cases from Sochi so far completed in cross-country skiing and skeleton.

Without positive doping tests, the panel used evidence of state-backed cover-ups and tampering of sample bottles in the Sochi laboratory first gathered last year by WADA investigator Richard McLaren.

At least 18 more Russian athletes are having their cases prosecuted in an ongoing series of hearings in Lausanne, Switzerland.

On Wednesday, the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation said it would update “within the next days” action against four Russians, including the Sochi gold medalist Alexander Tretiyakov and bronze medalist Elena Nikitina.

Nikitina won a skeleton World Cup race last weekend in Park City, Utah — a result which may soon be overturned by the IBSF.

All the Russian athletes disqualified by the IOC can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On Dec. 5, IOC President Thomas Bach will announce after a board meeting if the Russian team will be banned from the Olympics, which open Feb. 9 in PyeongChang.

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