By STEPHEN WILSON
LONDON (AP) â¿¿ Exactly eight months before the vote, the race for the 2020 Summer Games moved into a crucial phase Monday when the three candidate cities submitted their bid plans to the International Olympic Committee.
Leaders from Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo handed over their documents at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, setting the stage for the final months of an international campaign by three cities bidding again after previous defeats.
Amid global economic uncertainty, Madrid is bidding for a third consecutive time, Tokyo a second time in a row and Istanbul a fifth time overall.
The so-called "bid books" run to several hundred pages and represent the cities' master plans of venues, budgets, financial guarantees, security, accommodations, transportation and other key aspects of the multi-billion-dollar projects.
The files will be released publicly by the bid cities Tuesday.
The IOC's evaluation commission, headed by Craig Reedie of Britain, will visit the cities in March and prepare a report for IOC members before a meeting with the bidders in Lausanne in July. The full IOC will select the host city in a secret ballot in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7.
The 2020 field initially included six candidates, but Rome dropped out when the Italian government refused to offer financial support, and the IOC cut Doha, Qatar, and Baku, Azerbaijan, from the list last year.
The mayors of Madrid and Istanbul joined their bid teams for Monday's ceremonial handover. Tokyo brought soccer star Homare Sawa, the FIFA women's player of the year in 2011.
Istanbul came up short for 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. Madrid finished third for the 2012 Games and second for 2016. Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, was third in the voting for 2016.
Tokyo received the highest praise in an IOC technical report last year that said the Japanese bid presents "a very strong application." Madrid has a "strong application," while Istanbul's project "offers good potential," the report said.