- Associated Press - Friday, September 2, 2011

LONDON (AP) — Six cities from Europe, Asia and the Middle East are competing to host the 2020 Olympics.

Submitting bids to the International Olympic Committee by Friday’s deadline were Rome; Madrid; Tokyo; Istanbul; Doha, Qatar; and Baku, Azerbaijan.

The U.S. Olympic Committee announced last week it would not submit a bid, assuring at least a 20-year gap between Olympics on American soil for the fourth time.

There were no surprises, as all six cities had previously announced their candidacies. All six contenders have made previous bids, and two — Rome and Tokyo— have hosted the Olympics.

Madrid is bidding for a third consecutive time, while Tokyo, Doha and 1960 are making their second successive attempts. It is Istanbul’s fifth overall bid.

“Clearly the bids that begin with the most strength are Madrid, Rome and Tokyo, cities that are consolidated as three great urban centers,” said Spanish IOC member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., son of the former IOC president.

Doha is proposing to hold the games in September and October, outside the traditional July-August dates, to avoid the blistering summer temperatures in the Gulf country.

The IOC will select the host city by secret ballot in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7, 2013.

The six candidates must first submit detailed application files and letters of guarantee to the IOC by Feb. 15. The IOC executive board will meet in May to decide whether to cut any of the cities and approve a list of finalists.

Final bid dossiers will be submitted in January 2013, followed by visits to the cities by an IOC evaluation commission from February to April.

The IOC panel will issue a report assessing the technical merits of the bids at least one month before the vote. The cities also will make technical presentations to the IOC ahead of the meeting in Buenos Aires.

Rome, which hosted the 1960 Olympics, was the first of the cities to announce its bid months ago. The Italian capital lost to Athens in the race for the 2004 Olympics and hopes to stage the games on the 60th anniversary of the ‘60 Games.

“Rome is a great sporting capital and memories are still alive of the 1960 Games which … from an economic point of view signaled the start of Italy’s economic boom,” Renata Polverini, the president of Rome’s Lazio region, said in a statement.

Madrid, which has never held the Olympics, mounted unsuccessful attempts for the 2012 and 2016 Games. The capital finished third in the 2012 voting and second for 2016.

“Madrid has a lot of experience from its two previous candidatures,” said Spanish Olympic Committee president Alejandro Blanco. “Its project has already been tested and it’s just about impossible to improve on it. Now we must develop a campaign to reveal all its assets.”

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