City for the 2020 Summer Olympics is Chosen As Olympic Committee Grapples With Other Issues
Tokyo just got even more awesome.
On Saturday, the city beat Istanbul by a vote of 60 to 36 to become the site of the 2020 summer Olympics. Madrid was also a contender, but was eliminated during the first round.
"All three cities were capable of staging excellent Games in 2020, but in the end it was Tokyo’s bid that resonated the most with the IOC membership, inviting us to “discover tomorrow” by delivering a organized and safe Games that will reinforce the Olympic values while demonstrating the benefits of sport to a new generation,” International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said in a statement.
The exciting news of the newest host city came on the heels of more news from the IOC: one of the oldest sports included in the games, wrestling, will be allowed to stay on after being placed in limbo for seven months. The sport beat out baseball-softball and squash for a spot in the 2020 and 2024 games.
The planned ousting of wrestling was a big shock to many in the competitive sports arena, but it's said wrestling was really threatened by the refusal to modernize by the sport's leadership. When wrestling appears at the 2020 Olympics, it will be a bit different. Officials overseeing the sport have added weight classes for women, and looked into ways to make the presentation more appealing — including groundbreaking moves like changing the colors of the wrestling mats.
“They have taken a number of steps to modernize and improve their sport, including the addition of more women and athletes in decision-making positions; rule changes to make the sport more exciting and easy to understand; and an increase in the number of women’s competitions. We are pleased with their reaction and happy to have wrestling on the Olympic program in 2020 and 2024,” said Rogge.
But retaining its spot wasn't cheap: Rich Bender, executive director of USA Wrestling, estimates that the campaign to keep wrestling in the Olympics cost millions of dollars.
Meanwhile, as Russia gears up to host the winter games in 2014, controversy continues to swirl over a law that would result in imprisonment or a fine for any foreigners found to participate in "propaganda of non-traditional sexual traditions.”
A strong reaction from the LGBT community and their supporters has Olympic officials in Russia scared. Dmitry Chernyshenko, the organizer of the 2014 Sochi games, called on the IOC to help Russia quell any potential demonstrations or resistance from participants and spectators.
For their part, the IOC has reminded athletes of a clause in the Olympic Charter that says, “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” Mark Adams, a spokesman for the IOC added, “We don’t want the Games to be a platform for demonstrations.”
In recent weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has tried to assuage concerns over treatment of the LGBT community, saying that the law will not impact the games. Despite signing a ban on demonstrations during the games, Putin tried to convince skeptics that he doesn't have it out for the gay community, “I assure you I work with these people,” Putin said of gay people. “I sometimes award them with state prizes.”