Following a surprisingly spectacular series of correct predictions by my Nana a few years ago, my family’s now-annual sporting predictions contest was born. The competition has evolved to include a variety of events which occur throughout the year, with the winner crowned on Christmas Eve and found in receipt of a stunning tiara (the loser, of course, receives a personalised wooden spoon).
The occasion has been dubbed an official tradition, and has been running long enough that we’ve been in this situation before: 2013 is the second time that the decision regarding an upcoming Olympic Games host city has been included within the competition.
For those who may not remember, the decision regarding Rio 2016 was taken back in 2009: at the time, I was still an Events Management undergrad, specialising in sports events as much as possible. At the time, I was undertaking a sport strategy module, and the IOC session was the talk of our class. Having already backed Rio in the family contest, I re-asserted my opinion in a friendly bet with a lecturer – whose horse was Chicago – and went on to win in both rounds. My lecturer’s reasoning was that Obama would sway the vote for Chicago. It was a valid argument and one which, when presented to me, worried me. But Rio had always been my gut feel, and my gut didn’t let me down.
When it came to choosing a horse for 2020, I felt that, in terms of raw odds, it should’ve been an easier decision. In fact, I found it harder. There are only three cities in the race at the moment – and it’s the first time in over 20 years that North America haven’t put in a bid – but I had little strong feeling on any of them. I couldn’t even remember which candidate city I backed until I received a reminder email from my Dad recently.
Apparently, I chose Tokyo. I knew I hadn’t chosen Madrid – between us, I will consume a large piece of headgear if they are awarded the Games: three successive failed bids is not a strong foundation for a successful one. If you asked me at the moment, I’d be tempted to say Istanbul, though I feel that both Tokyo and Istanbul’s bids are strong.
Back in 2009, my gut cried Rio for several reasons: it’s a city that I’m keen to visit; the Olympics have not previously taken place in South America; Brazil have been stepping up their staging of international sporting events. But other than my observation that the IOC are not fans of Madrid, I had no other clear opinions on 2020.
It’s disappointing but unsurprising that it’s only a three horse race: several cities stated that the international financial situation impeded their progress as candidate cities – most notably was Rome, which dropped out late in the bidding process. London has twice hosted an “austerity Games” and it’s clear that the financial crisis which has been bubbling through the Western world for over half a decade already could rumble on and produce a continued ripple effect through a quarter of a century.
The decision on 2020 will be handed down on 7 September, so there isn’t long to wait. My default when uncertain regarding such issues is usually one I have already mentioned: where would I like to go if I were an athlete or a spectator? There is no doubt that Rio will put on an incredible show, and I would be happy to visit any of the cities on offer for 2020. So perhaps I’ll be happy whatever the outcome. Whoever the winners are, they take on a challenge unlike any other and I wish them the best of luck. Their Games begin soon.