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Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo announced as finalists to host 2020 Games

The International Olympic Committee's executive board lopped two of five applicants for the 2020 Summer Olympics at the IOC meetings in Quebec City, opting to keep the race going for Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul.

Gone are Doha, Qatar, and Baku, Azerbaijan – the former having to fight to make a special case to hold the Olympics in October because of intense summer heat and the latter a relative newcomer to the IOC back rooms.

Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul – who had been to the well before – will advance to the final phase, a 17-month race that will end with the IOC vote at a full session in Buenos Aires.

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Madrid was runner up to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games. Tokyo was the 1964 host and bidding a second time in a row, and Istanbul a fifth time overall.

"The two bid phases were introduced by the IOC in 2000 to ensure that cities insufficiently prepared or considered not to have the potential to successfully organize the in the year in question, did not proceed to the second phase of bidding, thus ensuring significant cost savings both to the bid cities and the IOC," the IOC said in a statement.

Doha, capital of the Gulf state of Qatar, and Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, were rejected for a second time in succession.

The 15-member executive board picked the finalists after examining a technical evaluation report compiled by a panel of Olympic experts.

Qatar is host of soccer's 2022 World Cup, but the summer heat and the timing of the Games were problematic. Baku, though it went to the West and to Sydney, Australia, for PR expertise, was always considered an outsider.

IOC members in Buenos Aires will also be tasked with picking a 28th sport for the 2020 athletics agenda (from a list including baseball and softball, which have been on the Olympic program until recently; the Pan American staples of roller sports and squash; sport climbing, wakeboarding, karate and another Far Eastern discipline, wushu). The busy session will also see the selection of a new IOC president.

Other would-be hosts who did not get this far included 1960 host Rome; Brisbane, Australia, Berlin, Delhi, Nairobi, Casablanca, Prague, Paris and Toronto – where potential organizers cited tough financial issues.

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MADRID

Advantages: For the 2020 Olympics, 27 of the 36 required venues already exist. Six permanent new venues need to be constructed while two temporary venues will be needed. The venues would comprise of two clusters. Madrid was nominated by the IOC executive committee in June, 2011, and within a month it received official confirmation by the government. Madrid lost to Rio de Janeiro in the final round of voting in their bid for the 2016 Olympics. In December 2011, Madrid's new mayor confirmed her support for the bid. A survey carried out between December, 2011, and January, 2012, found that 84 per cent of Spanish citizens supported the Madrid bid to host the Olympic Games in 2020. About 90 per cent of those surveyed believe that hosting the games will be positive because it will help to employ people. Support for the Olympic bid is about 75 per cent in Madrid.

Disadvantages: The bid has had to defend Madrid's ability to host the games despite Spain's economic problems. The bid's budget will be between $30.2-million (U.S.) and $35.3-million. IOC president Jacques Rogge says some upgrades of facilities and infrastructure will be needed.

TOKYO

Advantages: Big, well-organized political support. Japan has passed a resolution giving the bid full support. Tokyo's 2020 bid will have a budget of $75-million – half the amount of their previous 2016 bid. A billion-dollar renovation of opening and closing ceremonies as well as track and field events is in the works. Most planned venues are within eight kilometres of the athletes village. Some soccer venues, shooting and modern pentathlon are more distant.

Disadvantages: Organizers keep fingers crossed for two reasons – popular backing and earthquake tremors. Public support has to grow. A January poll put public backing at 66 per cent. Tokyo is also pursuing the bid as a rebuilding therapy, following the tsunami disaster that affected much of eastern Japan.

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ISTANBUL

Advantages : Many IOC members have evaluated the Turkish capital first-hand as it makes its fifth bid for the Summer Games. Each time since 2000, the federal government has footed the bill for a new state-of-the-art sports facility. Istanbul bid official Hasan Arat says the Olympics is Turkey's main priority. "Every level of government is right behind us," Arat told The Associated Press. The city has the ninth most international arrivals in the world. Hotel space sounds abundant – in 2010, there were 766 accommodation establishments of different categories in Istanbul licensed by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, a total of 46,652 rooms and 93,299 beds – and 20,000 more beds are expected to come on line, including those in 25 five-star hotels.

Disadvantages: Turkey is also bidding for soccer's 2020 European Championship, but the IOC has said Turkey can't have another major sports event in the same year.

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James Christie written sports for the Globe on staff since 1974, covering almost all beats and interviewed the big names from Joe DiMaggio, to Muhammad Ali, to Jim Brown to Wayne Gretzky. Also covered the 10 worst years in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey history. More

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