Tokyo, Istanbul neck-and-neck in 2020 Summer Olympic race

Updated 08 September 2012
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Tokyo, Istanbul neck-and-neck in 2020 Summer Olympic race

PARIS: The race to host the 2020 Summer Olympics threatens to be a cliffhanger between Tokyo and Istanbul a source close to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said with just under a year to go to the vote.
The source said the 100-plus IOC members face an unenviable choice when they vote in Buenos Aires on September 7 next year in what will be the final host city decision taken under the presidency of Jacques Rogge, whose successor is elected on September 10.
The source said Madrid, the third candidate, was not a realistic option given the prevailing economic crisis in Spain, though praised it for its tenacious refusal to give up the ghost and the fact a lot of the stadia were already in place.
However, both Istanbul and Tokyo hold a great advantage over Madrid in the IOC’s eyes in terms of leaving a legacy — a factor crucial to many IOC members.
Voting for Istanbul would see the Games go to a city renowned for being the bridge where East meets West or Europe meets Asia and would be the first Games hosted by a country with a predominantly Muslim population.
A vote for Tokyo — the only one of the three candidates to have previously hosted the Games in 1964 — would be seen as giving the country a significant boost just two years after the quake-tsunami disaster which left about 19,000 people dead or missing.
“Tokyo would still be ahead as there are no worries about their ability to complete the work required on time and with the financing of the Games,” said the source.
“Plus there are many IOC members who are swayed by voting for them because they see it as a way of helping the process of rebuilding the Japanese people’s morale and giving them something to look forward to and a goal to achieve.
“Istanbul on the other hand has steadily built up momentum, it has somehow managed to ride out the storm over also bidding to host the Euro 2020 championship (under IOC rules no country can host another major championship in the same year), and has serious appeal.
“For the IOC members there is an important legacy to be had by voting Istanbul bridging two cultures and two religions in what is one of the fastest growing economies and a significant powerbroker politically.” Both Tokyo — who finished third behind Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games with Madrid finishing second — and Istanbul bid committees issued optimistic rallying calls with the vote a year away.
“Excitement and momentum are building as we enter this final year of our bid to welcome the world to Tokyo in 2020,” said Japanese IOC member and president of the bid Tsunekazu Takeda.
“We have strong backing across all levels of Japanese society. We are a cohesive team underpinned by a deep national passion for sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games.” Kadir Topba, the Mayor of Istanbul, said this was their best ever bid after four previous failed attempts and the city was ready to meet all the requirements needed to host the Games.
“Our nation’s desire to bring the Games to Turkey for the first time in our history has never been greater,” he said.
“Just as importantly, Istanbul’s capacity to realize our vision has never been greater.
“Now our city is ready to host the first Games in Olympic history to span two continents at once — to reach across the Bosphorus and bridge east and west, new and old, rich history and united future.”


’Mohamed Salah is up there with the world’s best,’ says Liverpool skipper

Updated 10 min 31 sec ago
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’Mohamed Salah is up there with the world’s best,’ says Liverpool skipper

  • Egyptian has scored 41 in 46 appearances
  • Jordan Henderson feels top clubs will be looking to sign Salah

LIVERPOOL: Jordan Henderson is confident Mohamed Salah will not be lured away from Anfield in the same manner the Egyptian was tempted from Roma last year.
Salah has surpassed all expectations since his then-club record €42 million ($52 million) move back to the Premier League last June and will face his old club in the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League semifinal on Tuesday.
An incredible return of 41 goals in 46 appearances saw Salah crowned the Premier League Players’ Player of the Year on Sunday.
However, unlike Liverpool stars of recent seasons such as Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, who were attracted by the glamor of a move to Barcelona, Henderson hopes Salah is convinced to stay by the growing momentum at Liverpool and the belief they can compete for major trophies under Jurgen Klopp.
“He’s a fantastic player, obviously he’s up there with the world’s best and there will be other clubs that want to take him away,” said Henderson.
“But he’s in a great place with a great set of lads, great team, with a great manager, going in the right direction. We want to create our own history here and I’m sure Mo will want to be part of that for many years to come.”
Roma co-owner James Pallotta recognized this week that Liverpool didn’t even have to beat off much competition to Salah’s signature, as he had only shown inconsistent flashes of his full potential in two years in the Italian capital.
Klopp is credited with finding the system to bring the best out of Salah.
And having led Liverpool back to the last four of the Champions League for the first time in a decade, Henderson said his team-mates feel “privileged” to work with the German.
“He’s one of the best managers in the world. First and foremost tactically it goes without question how knowledgeable he is within the game, you can see that in the performances, the style of play and how we play football,” he added.
“Off the field he’s a fantastic human. Very genuine, has a great passion for football and that transcends throughout the team.
“He always keeps you on your toes, always looking for more, he never wants the standards to drop no matter who we are playing. He’s an amazing manager and everybody in the squad feels privileged to be working with him.”
Roma have had to wait even longer for a European Cup semifinal with their last appearance coming 34 years ago when they beat Dundee United but went on to lose to Liverpool in the final.
The manner in which they reached the semifinals even outshone Liverpool’s 5-1 quarter-final thrashing of Premier League champions Manchester City as Roma came back from a 4-1 first leg deficit against Barcelona thanks to a 3-0 second leg victory masterminded by Roma’s own impressive coach in Eusebio Di Francesco.
But apart from their physical similarities, Di Francesco — who is making his debut as a coach in the Champions League this season — believes he has a long way to go to earn comparisons with Klopp.
“As Klopp mentioned there are similarities in that we both wear glasses and have a beard,” he joked. “But I very much like his outlook.
“I am concerned we play a team coached by such a great manager. Klopp has proved himself, has won already titles, but I have great ambitions.”