Olympic Committee Picks A New Olympic Sport

NPR's Mike Pesca is in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the International Olympic Committee's announcement of Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympics. He speaks to host Rachel Martin about the IOC's next decision: wrestling, squash or baseball-softball.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Time now for sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)

MARTIN: Yesterday in Buenos Aires, the International Olympic Committee went eenie-meenie-minie-moe and decided which city will host the 2020 Olympics.

JACQUES ROGGE: The Games of the 32nd Olympiad in 2020 are awarded to the city of Tokyo.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

MARTIN: And the crowd goes wild. NPR's Mike Pesca was there. He joins us now. Hey, Mike.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Hello.

MARTIN: So, we should say it probably was a little more complicated than eenie-meenie-minie-moe. So, break it down for us. Why did Tokyo beat out Madrid and Istanbul?

PESCA: They were eenie, obviously. No, you're right. It is a bit more complicated. The answer is - we'll never really know. I mean, the process is opaque. Many of the people who vote for it don't come from countries that are democracies and, you know, maybe like to talk to the press. But there's a general consensus that Tokyo was seen as the safe choice. Jacques Rogge, the outgoing president of the IOC, was asked why did you think Tokyo won? And he did say I'm a surgeon and I felt like was in safe hands. You know, Istanbul, Turkey shares a border with Syria. There were protests. Madrid has a very bad economy. So, Tokyo, even though there's the Fukushima reactor, their president came. He gave assurances that the problems with Fukushima, 150 miles from Tokyo, will be solved in seven years. And they bought that apparently. Safety was the answer, or at least safe hands.

MARTIN: OK. This decision, at least for these cities, it's about getting an economic boost. They hope that the Olympics will bring in a lot of investment. Has that proven to be true? Is this what is likely to happen for Tokyo?

PESCA: Right. That's what they all say, and every official report commissioned will tell you about how billions of dollars of euros, yen, pounds, whatever, will be generated, and it's just not true. 'Cause after every Games, the economists do a report or do reports, and they have never found that the Games have been good for the local economy. But when they're not talking about economics, they're talking about maybe some of the intangibles. Here through an interpreter is the Japanese prime minister Abe talking about what the Olympics meant to him.

PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE: (Through Translator) Dreams and hopes were given to lot of children. It was a celebration giving hope and dreams, including myself. A lot of children wanted to have an aspiration of winning a medal in the Olympic Games.

MARTIN: Hopes and dreams?

PESCA: And, really, can you put a price tag on a child's hopes and dreams?

MARTIN: No, you cannot. NPR's Mike Pesca. Thanks so much.

PESCA: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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