Doha, Baku out of running for 2020 Games
Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo is in for 16 months of furious campaigning to prove themselves to the IOC.
QUEBEC CITY - The chase to host the 2020 Summer Games was reduced to a three horse race between Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo after Doha and the Azerbaijan capital Baku were dropped from the running by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday.
The announcement in a packed Quebec City ballroom brought smiles but few cheers from the surviving cities as all three know the challenges that lie ahead after having previously cleared the first hurdle with recent bids.
"It is the third time we have been invited to participate in the final run and we are very excited to bring this to Spain," Spanish IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., son of the former IOC president, told Reuters.
"This is a kind of Olympic competition with only a gold medal. We have bronze, silver and now we go for the gold.
"My father would not waste one second wasting how happy we are, he would have us all meeting in a room right now thinking what's next."
Next for Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo is 16 months of furious campaigning as they try to convince the IOC they are up to the task of staging the world's biggest sporting spectacle.
The high stakes run-off reaches the finish line in Buenos Aires in September 2013, when the IOC will vote on the 2020 host city.
Doha and Baku head back to the drawing board.