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Tokyo leading race for 2020 Olympics, IOC sources say

Kyodo

Members of the International Olympic Committee, who will vote in less than three months to pick the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics, are increasingly leaning toward Tokyo as the favorite, several notable members said.

Tokyo’s emphasis on safety and security appears to be influencing the race for the 2020 Games by pitting its squeaky clean image against the turmoil and instability being witnessed in Istanbul and Madrid.

An IOC veteran from Europe speaking on condition of anonymity said that Tokyo is within reach of winning the bid, while another high-profile member with experience on the IOC Executive Board believes Tokyo will win as long as it doesn’t make any major mistakes before the vote.

Istanbul, now making its fifth Olympic bid, was favored for its aim to become the first Islamic city to host the games, but Tokyo’s stock has risen sharply since Turkish authorities began cracking down on antigovernment protests that began May 31.

As part of the crackdown, police in Istanbul are being blamed for attacking peaceful demonstrators in Taksim Square. An IOC member from Asia who would only speak on condition of anonymity said the turmoil was a “big blow” to Istanbul’s bid.

Madrid, meanwhile, has seen no end in sight to its economic crisis.

Although Tokyo’s lack of a clear concept for the games had been viewed as a weakness, the issue of security is gathering steam.

The three candidate cities made presentations to more than 800 national Olympic committee representatives during the Association of National Olympic Committees General Assembly in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday.

It was the second such presentation since the cities pitched their cases to the IOC at the SportsAccord conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, in May, with each claiming to be the safest and most financially sound as the race enters the final stretch.