The Best Cities for the Olympics 2020 and Beyond- Olympic Week


Olympic rings outside of the Montreal Olympic Stadium. Photo courtesy of Shawn Carpenter.

Written by Cleo Bergman

With the London Olympics coming up this summer and Rio de Janeiro claiming the 2016 summer Olympics, there are a plethora of cities that are vying for their chance to host the future Olympics to leave their legacy in Olympic history. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) sifts through these hopeful cities by looking at a number of factors that would make a city an ideal candidate, including available sports venues, transportation, safety, and finance. They also assess the city’s “aims, aspirations, and legacy plans” to determine its commitment to “build a better world through sport.”

With these aspects in mind, which cities are the best cities to host the future Olympics? For the Olympics 2020, the IOC filtered out Baku, Azerbaijan because of its lack of experience in hosting international sporting events, and Doha, Qatar due to conflicts concerning timing with other sporting events, weather conditions, and the well-being of the athletes. This narrowed down the candidates to Istanbul, Tokyo, and Madrid. Based on the IOC’s Working Group report, we’ve determined our own evaluation of which of these cities would make the best Olympic cities for 2020 and beyond.

Bronze: Madrid, Spain Photo courtesy of Zhang Wenjie.

Out of all the candidates, Madrid has shown promise to keep the Olympics as economical as possible. Due to their past efforts to build its infrastructure—26 out of the 36 sports venues that it proposed for the Olympics 2020 are constructed already—there is relatively low investment to be made for the preparation for the Olympics.

It all seems to good to be true—which unfortunately happens to be the case. Right now, Spain’s economy is in a crisis due to its enormous debt, which would explain Madrid’s attempt to keep everything within a budget, however, it also proves to be a tricky economic move for the Olympics. On the other hand, if the IOC decides to host the Olympics in Madrid, it could also help improve the country’s economic development and the overall quality of life for its residents. However, if the Olympics were to expect smooth and quality performance overall, they would be better off saving Madrid for the future Olympics when its economy is (hopefully) more stable.

Silver: Istanbul, TurkeyPhoto courtesy of Hector Garcia.

Not only would it be a monumental move to host the Olympics in the Middle East for the first time in Olympic history, but also to host the Olympics in Istanbul would prove to be progressive for the city and the world. Istanbul has unique qualities that appeal to the heart of the Olympic games: it is the only city that lies between two continents (Europe and Asia)—a globally unifying factor in itself — and half of its population is under the age of 25.

While the Olympics is meant to appeal to all ages, it is particularly imperative to interest the youth who will one day be in charge of global decisions, and may very well be future Olympians themselves. Despite its progressive opportunities, there are political factors that may push Istanbul’s chance to hold the Olympics past 2020. According to the Working Group report, Istanbul is subject to “Kurdish-related terrorist activity,” and are no strangers to frequent demonstrations that could hinder the performance and spirit of the Olympics overall. As a candidate Olympic city, Istanbul shows promise, but not for 2020.

Gold: Tokyo, Japan Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It may not seem fair that Tokyo would get a chance to host the 2020 Olympics since it already hosted the Olympics in 1964 while Istanbul and Madrid never hosted the Olympics before, however, Japan’s Olympic history may prove to be more helpful and comforting to ensure the success of the 2020 Olympics. To prepare for the 1964 games, Japan had to undergo major modernizations of its infrastructure, transportation, and airports in order to accommodate the large number of tourist activity. All the while, Japan’s political leaders also had to court public support for the Olympics despite the financial stress leftover from World War II.

In hopes of preparing for the 2020 Olympics, Japan is more technologically advanced and equipped to host the Olympics than ever before. However, they are facing similar challenges as they did back then in mustering public support for the Olympics so soon after the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Despite this, Japan sees the Olympics as an opportunity to unify and inspire Japan through challenging times, just as it did in 1964. With Japan’s experience in hosting national and international sports events, along with its extraordinary ability to rise from the ashes of tragedy while maintaining one of the top economies in the world, Tokyo appears to be the most ideal city to host the 2020 Olympics.