February 5 - Thomas Bach (pictured), vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has claimed that the high quality of the six bidders competing to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games has put his organisation in a very comfortable position ahead of the all-important vote next year.
Baku, Doha, Istanbul, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo are the applicant cities for the Games.
The host city will be elected on September 2013 at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires and the influential Bach, who is also President of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), said that the IOC is extremely impressed by all six of the bidders.
"The quality of all of the bids is already easy to see and all six are clearly very professional," Back told insidethegames.
"We will get a much clearer idea of exactly what each bid will offer when the application files and guarantee letters are submitted to the IOC in Lausanne next month.
"But there is no doubt that the strength of all the bids so far puts the IOC in a very comfortable position."
Many Olympic experts have predicted that the 2020 Olympic bid race could be one of the most open bid races since the 2012 race when London, inspired by then bid chairman and now Organising Committee chairman Sebastian Coe, famously came from behind to upset favourites Paris in Singapore in 2005.
Bach said it would be difficult to tell how close the bid race would be until the final vote in Buenos Aires is revealed although he feels it will certainly be an exciting one to watch.
"Whether it is an open race or not, we will see at the end," said Bach, who led Munich's unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
"It is hard to tell at this early stage but certainly the quality of all the bids means it will be exciting."
In recent years, the IOC has looked to take the Olympics and Paralympics to new territories such as Sochi in 2014, Rio in 2016 and Pyeongchang in 2018.
A continuation of that policy would appear to put Baku, Doha and Istanbul in a strong position as Azerbaijan, Qatar and Turkey have never hosted the Olympics before whereas Spain, Italy and Japan all have.
Bach admitted that the IOC has looked in the past to take the competition to new territories but that the overall strength of the bid is what will ultimately secure victory.
"Taking the Olympics to new places has always been something that has been important to the IOC and I think that this will be the case in the future," he said.
"But the quality of the bid is the most important thing."
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