Exclusive: Two days or six? Bidders dream up varied 2020 rugby visions
Thursday, 17 January 2013
January 17 - The three rival candidates for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are adopting contrasting approaches to slotting the new sport of rugby sevens into the crowded Olympic schedule.
Istanbul's Olympic rugby competition, stretching over six days, would last three times as long as Tokyo's, which would be fast and furious, with all the action taking place on the first Monday and Tuesday of the Games.
Madrid's plan steers a middle course, with matches played over three days and a rest day inserted before the decisive rounds of the men's and women's competitions.
Rugby is set to assume an ever higher profile in Japan over the next six years, with the nation preparing to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Should Tokyo win the right to stage the 2020 Games, the rugby competition would take place in the vast 80,000-capacity Kasumigaoka National Stadium (pictured top) being built for that World Cup.
Istanbul's rugby Olympics would begin with a three-day women's competition, followed by the men.
Matches would be played at the İnönü Stadium, built on what was once the stable of nearby Dolmabahçe Palace and generally used by Beşiktaş football club.
The Japanese and Turkish cities, widely seen as the most likely winners of the 2020 race, have also taken contrasting approaches to golf, the other sport introduced to the Olympic programme for Rio 2016.
Istanbul would start with the women's competition and end with the men's, both over four days.
Tokyo would do things the other way around, with the culmination of the women's tournament - with Asian golfers more than likely to be prominent - scheduled for the final Saturday of the Games.
In other noteworthy scheduling moves, Istanbul would hold the men's and women's modern pentathlon competitions over the first two days of the Games, and would stage them at the 76,000-capacity Atatürk Olympic Stadium, also earmarked as the main athletics venue.
Modern pentathlon, however, is one of the sports whose Olympic future could be under threat.
Both Tokyo and Madrid, meanwhile, would position their Olympic wrestling competitions earlier in the Games than has been the case on recent occasions.
This might put a dampener on the late surge of medals usually won by Russian athletes, with wrestlers prominent among them.
One possible motivation for the switch by Tokyo 2020 planners might be to help the host nation to establish a good position in the medals table as early as possible.
Japanese wrestlers matched Russia's wrestling haul of four golds at London 2012.
If they could achieve something similar on home soil in 2020, 10,000 fans would no doubt raise the roof in Hall A of the memorably-named Tokyo Big Sight venue.
January 2013: With three very different Candidates bidding for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics it is an exciting time for the Olympic Movement