Finance central to Olympic bids

The race to host the 2020 Olympics has begun in earnest with three candidate cities announcing budgets that differ vastly from each other.

The race to host the 2020 Olympics has begun in earnest with three candidate cities announcing budgets that differ vastly from each other.

Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo have published their detailed plans for the Games, and with finances expected to be closely scrutinised each city is taking a different approach to budgets.

For example, Istanbul is using Turkey's strong economy as a powerful argument in its favour, in contrast to the problems that have wracked other European countries.

Istanbul's bid chairman Hasan Arat said: "This is the reality - we have had an average growth rate of 5.2% between 2002 and 2011, 3.5 times the European average.

"Our economic situation is very strong and we are ready to afford the Games."

Istanbul has an organising committee budget of 1.2billion and a construction budget of 12billion, which includes some major public infrastructure projects as well as the venues. That puts the city in the same ballpark as London, which spent 9billion on construction and security for last summer's Games plus 2billion operationally.

Istanbul is hoping to be the first city from a majority Muslim country to host the Games, with the Bosphorus river dividing it into an Asian side and a European side.

Arat added: "It would be the first Olympics across two continents. In the morning you would be able to watch beach volleyball in the Asian side, and then in the afternoon watch basketball in the European side."

Madrid, meanwhile, has attempted to make a virtue of their plans for a low-cost Games, claiming most of the venues are already in place.

Its candidate file states an organising committee budget of 500million and a construction budget of just 1.2billion.

The file states: "Our approach to cost accounting is realistic and conservative."

Spain is in the grip of an economic crisis however, with 25% unemployment, and its financial plan is a bid to show the country really can afford to host an Olympics and Paralympics.

It is also the third consecutive time it has bid for the Games, losing out to London and Rio de Janeiro previously.

Tokyo's budget is closer to Madrid's than Istanbul's, with an organising committee budget of 2.7billion and a construction budget of 2.2billion.

Tokyo also made reference to its financial power, with the city's new governor Naoki Inose referring to metropolitan government's annual financial base of 12trillion yen which would underwrite the Games by saying: "That's quite big."

That is part of Tokyo's attempt to portray itself as the safe pair of hands for the Olympics movement. It too bid unsuccessfully for 2016, while this is the fifth time Istanbul has bid.

The vote will be taken by the International Olympic Committee members in September, and while finances have never been at the top of the IOC's agenda in the past they may prove to be this time due to the economic climate.

But the members will be aware that bid budgets rarely, if ever, reflect the final amounts hosts spend on the Games. For example, London's bid budget was just 2.4billion, only 27% of the final cost.