Tokyo 2020

Tokyo wins 2020 Olympics over Istanbul, Madrid


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.”

Mary Cain ‘back to basics’ after ‘disappointing year’

Mary Cain
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Mary Cain, who in 2013 became the youngest U.S. track and field athlete to make a World Championships team and turned pro at age 17 later that fall, is spending her run-up to next year and the 2016 Olympics home in New York rather than returning to Oregon where she went to college and trained last year.

In June, Cain finished eighth in the 1500m at the U.S. Championships, missing the top-four placement necessary to make the World Championships team.

“After a disappointing year, I knew that I needed a change,” Cain said in a blog post Tuesday. “For me, that meant returning home to New York (and its bagels) or where it all started. With 2016 being such an important year, it’s a blessing to be able to, as my mom says, ‘Go back to basics.'”

Cain, who was a freshman at the University of Portland last year, is still coached by three-time New York City Marathon champion Alberto Salazar with the aid of New Zealand 2004 Olympic 10,000m runner John Henwood, according to the blog.

“We’re trying to get [running] back to fun with her,” Henwood said, according to Runner’s World.

Cain moved from Bronxville, N.Y., to Portland after graduating high school last year, completing a decorated prep career filled with records and state and national titles. She trained with Salazar’s group, which includes Olympic 10,000m gold and silver medalists Mo Farah and Galen Rupp.

Cain won the World Junior Championships 3000m in 2014 and became the youngest woman to make a senior World Championships 1500m final in 2013, when she finished 10th.

“I always said the key to running well was keeping the sport fun,” Cain said in the blog post. “With the help of this great NY running community, I am happy to say that I have found that love again! I’m looking forward to a rewarding Indoor and Outdoor season.

“Thanks to everyone who has supported me through the ups and downs! I hope to make 2016 a year to remember!”

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Usain Bolt returns to Oktoberfest, with Olympic Alpine skier

Brazil’s best tennis player: ‘tough to dream’ of Rio Olympic medal

Thomaz Bellucci
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Thomaz Bellucci admits playing at a home Olympics brings at least some pressure.

“To well represent Brazil,” the Sao Paulo native clarified at the U.S. Open in New York last month. “It’s tough to dream about having a medal.”

The 27-year-old Bellucci is the only Brazilian tennis player, man or woman, ranked in the world top 50. He sits at No. 31, having this season reached his first ATP final since 2012 and winning it at the Geneva Open in Switzerland in May.

Brazil’s Olympic Committee set a target of 27 to 30 medals in Rio, after earning 17 at London 2012. The added glory likely won’t come from tennis, a sport in which a Brazilian has never stood on an Olympic podium.

“For the Olympics, I don’t feel too many pressure,” Bellucci said, “because even if I play in Brazil, I know there are many players more favored than me because [Roger] Federer‘s going to play, [Novak] Djokovic, all these guys have so much more pressure than me because they have more chance to have a medal.”

Olympic tennis gained greater significance on the busy tour calendars among top players with recent Games.

On the men’s side, every medalist from 2008 and 2012 had already reached at least one Grand Slam final in his career. That group of six included Federer (2012 silver), Djokovic (2008 bronze), Rafael Nadal (2008 gold) and Andy Murray (2012 gold).

But if Bellucci and the Brazilians look back, they can find unexpected, inspiring runs. In 1996, Brazil’s Fernando Meligeni came to the Atlanta Games ranked No. 95 in the world, having never made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

The charismatic Meligeni, a lefty who sometimes played wearing his cap backwards, reached the final four in Stone Mountain, twice playing for a medal, and hitting a tweener on the penultimate point of his semifinal against Spain’s Sergi Bruguera.

He lost both medal-round matches, including the bronze match to Indian Leander Paes, who won the U.S. Open mixed doubles last month with another 1996 Olympic singles tennis player, Swiss Martina Hingis. Hingis is attempting to return to the Olympics next year for the first time since 1996.

In 2004, Chile’s Nicolas Massu won singles and doubles gold in Athens having never reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam in singles.

Bellucci debuted at the Olympics in 2008 and hasn’t won a single Games match. He rose from a No. 85 overall ranking in Beijing to No. 42 going into the London 2012 Olympics, where he forced then-Wimbledon semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to three sets. Bellucci and partner Andre Sa were the only doubles pair to take a set off Americans Bob and Mike Bryan at London 2012.

“Beijing I was very surprised, because I was very young and had no idea,” Bellucci said. “In London, I had a very tough draw against Tsonga. Let’s see if I can have more luck in Brazil to have a better draw.”

Not even the great Gustavo Kuerten could sniff an Olympic medal. The three-time French Open champion — the only Brazilian man to win a Grand Slam — couldn’t do better than the quarterfinals in 2000 and 2004.

The analysis of Bellucci in the scope of Kuerten, who is of a similar tall, thin build, has silenced in recent years.

“They used to say that when I was young, when I was starting to play well,” said Bellucci, whose four ATP titles came on Kuerten’s favorite surface, clay, while the Rio Olympic tournament will be on hard courts. “They want to compare me and Guga [Kuerten], but anyway they are not comparing anymore because Guga is so much bigger than me.”

As much as Bellucci tries to keep expectations low, he urges that his sport is one of the most popular in Brazil.

“I think soccer, for sure, is No. 1 and then volleyball is second and then tennis, I think,” he said. “I think we have more people playing tennis than volleyball because I think all the ages can play tennis.”

MORE TENNIS: Martina Hingis waits on Federer, Wawrinka to decide on Rio 2016