BUENOS AIRES – Tokyo will make one last pitch this week as the clock ticks down before members of the International Olympic Committee cast their votes Saturday in Buenos Aires to elect the host for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Tokyo appears to be in a tight race, but by most accounts a slight favorite over Madrid and Istanbul, which is bidding for the fifth time and looking to become the first Olympic host from a Muslim country.
The vote will be carried out in a secret ballot Sept. 7, and departing IOC President Jacques Rogge (the new IOC president will be elected Sept. 10, also in Buenos Aires) and the respective IOC members from the candidate cities are ineligible to participate.
“When the results finally emerge, I believe we will be given high marks, so I will do my utmost,” Tsunekazu Takeda, chairman of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic bid committee, said after his arrival in the Argentine capital Friday.
If a majority is not reached to elect the host city in the first round of voting among the nearly 100 IOC members, the city that garnered the fewest votes will be eliminated before a runoff between the two remaining candidates.
For the 2016 Games that went to Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo was eliminated in the second round before Madrid lost to Rio in the 66-32 runoff.
The fate of Tokyo’s ¥7.5 billion bid hangs in the balance, especially since Japan is still dealing with a nuclear crisis at the crippled Fukushima plant, resulting from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami; radiation-tainted water is flowing into the Pacific from the damaged plant.
“The prime minister said recently in comments he made in Qatar that the government is doing all within its power . . . to work toward a solution. The prime minister will be here too, and I believe that from the standpoint of the government, he will give a precise explanation to everyone.”