The three cities still vying to be Olympic Games hosts in 2020 each have major difficulties so the games committee will not have an easy task this week end.
Madrid would be the safest choice as many of the necessary Olympic stadia and other venues already exist or are not expected to be that expensive to construct. On the other hand Spain's economy is in dire straits. Furthermore Barcelona hosted the Olympics not that long ago in 1992 and of course another European city did in 2012 so overall unless the committee decide to be ultra conservative which I doubt Madrid seems an unlikely choice.
Tokyo offers another option but this would take the Games back to the Far East quite soon after the successful hosting of the games by Bejing 2008. However the concerns about the Fukushima nuclear power station's partial meltdown during the tsunami there in 2011 and the risks of contamination of the nearby Pacific Ocean and elsewhere are as real now as they were in 2011. In my view the Olympic Committee would not be put off by such concerns. Yet the gap which will then still be only 12 years since Bejing hosted the Olympics might be considered by some to be too small - a similar drawback to that affecting Madrid.
Istanbul is the third option. Turkey is the least wealthy of the 3 countries with cities still in the running for hosting the 2020 Olympic Games. Turkey mostly lies in Asia but far away from China and Japan; part of Istanbul is also in Eastern Europe so its geography seems better suited than that of the other 2 contenders. Sadly though, Turkey is very affected by the disastrous and tragic Middle East strife on its doorstep. I do not see that disaster abating any time soon and if bombs are hurled by well meaning but in my view misguided, Western nations the strife and human disaster in neighbouring Syria would surely increase and spread. On the other hand as coincidentally illustrated by my previous blog post harking back to personal travels there in 1970, the Turks have managed to maintain a society which is not overwhelmed by the rigours of one religion or another for a generation now. Awarding the Olympic Games to Istanbul would be slightly risky but in my view would be a risk worth taking. The Turkish authorities would work furiously to make their hosting of the Games a great success. I speculate that as part of that furious work, they would endeavour to be influential in putting their neighbours on the road to peace or would at least be less inclined to participate in the ongoing violence.
Istanbul has my vote.