By JIM ARMSTRONG, Associated Press
TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo organizers are pleased the Japanese capital made the cut to be one of three contenders to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee on Wednesday decided the race for the 2020 Olympics will come down to a contest between Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul. Doha, capital of the Gulf state of Qatar, and Baku, Azerbaijan, were eliminated from the bidding process at IOC meetings held in Quebec City, Canada.
"It is a great pleasure and true honor that Tokyo has been accepted as a candidate city," Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 bid committee, said at a news conference Thursday.
The IOC will select the 2020 host city at a meeting in Buenos Aires in September 2013.
Tokyo is promoting its 2020 bid as a symbol of Japan's recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that left over 15,000 people dead or missing on Japan's northeast coast.
The executive board, chaired by IOC President Jacques Rogge, chose the finalists after examining a technical evaluation compiled by a panel of Olympic experts. The board then voted on each candidate.
Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, received the highest praise in the IOC report, which said the Japanese bid presents "a very strong application." Madrid has a "strong application," while Istanbul's project "offers good potential," the report said.
As it did in a bid to host the 2016 Olympics, Tokyo is boasting a highly compact venue plan, which would have athletes live and compete in the heart of the city. All but three Tokyo venues would be located within five miles of the Olympic Village in the city's downtown district.
A major improvement of the 2020 bid is that the main Olympic stadium would be in the center of the city as opposed to the 2016 plan for a pier on the Tokyo waterfront, which the IOC deemed as too inaccessible.
"We have kept the best and improved the rest from our previous bid," Tokyo 2020 bid committee president Tsunekazu Takeda said. "We are determined more than ever to produce the best plan ahead of the election of the host city in September next year."
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