BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - Tokyo has been awarded the 2020 Olympics, capitalizing on its reputation as a "safe pair of hands" and defying concerns about the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Tokyo defeated Istanbul in the final round of secret voting Saturday by the International Olympic Committee. Madrid was eliminated earlier after an initial tie with Istanbul.
Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, billed itself as the safe and reliable choice at a time of global political and economic uncertainty.
"Tokyo can be trusted to be the safe pair of hands and much more," bid leader and IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda said in the final presentation. "Our case today is simple. Vote for Tokyo and you vote for guaranteed delivery. ... Tokyo is the right partner at the right time."
Tokyo had been on the defensive in the final days of the campaign because of mounting concerns over the leak of radioactive water from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
In the final presentation before the vote, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave the IOC assurances that the Fukushima leak was not a threat to Tokyo and took personal responsibility for keeping the games safe.
"Let me assure you the situation is under control," Abe said. "It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo."
Abe gave further assurances when pressed on the issue by Norwegian IOC member Gerhard Heiberg.
"It poses no problem whatsoever," Abe said in Japanese, adding that the contamination was limited to a small area and had been "completely blocked."
"There are no health related problems until now, nor will there be in the future," he said. "I make the statement to you in the most emphatic and unequivocal way."
Tokyo Electric Power Co., Fukushima's operator, has acknowledged that tons of radioactive water has been seeping into the Pacific from the plant for more than two years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami led to meltdowns at three of its reactors. Recent leaks from tanks storing radioactive water used to cool the reactors have added to fears that the amount of contaminated water is getting out of hand.
CRUSHED IN ISTANBUL
A groan went out in the old city of Istanbul where hundreds of hopeful Turks heard the announcement Saturday that Tokyo had been chosen to host the 2020 Olympics.
Istanbul's failed bid was a blow to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had flown to Buenos Aires to make the case straight from the Group of 20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Turkey, an early favorite, seemed to falter in June when the government clashed violently with protesters. Istanbul's bid may also have been hurt by a string of doping scandals among Turkish athletes and the uncertainty of neighboring Syria's civil war.
Rafet Pacali, an Istanbul resident, said the repeated rejection for Istanbul in its fifth bid was difficult to take.
``They just don't want to give it to us,'' he said, while sparing some optimism. ``Next time hopefully, if it's meant to be.''
The city was prepared to celebrate where large TV screens were put up in front of the sixth-century former church of Haghia Sophia. Music blared and red and white Turkish flags waved. The crowd was ecstatic when just over an hour before the final announcement they watched the International Olympic Committee declare that Istanbul had beaten out Madrid to reach a final round of voting against Tokyo.
DISHEARTENED IN MADRID
Tens of thousands of Spaniards were devastated after Madrid lost its bid to host the Olympics amid fears about the country's economy and unemployment rate.
It was the third straight time the capital failed in attempts to win the Summer Games. The International Olympic Committee meeting in Buenos Aires eliminated the city in the first round of voting.
``I am in shock,'' said 42-year-old Marta Castro, a housewife with three children. ``I thought that it was a tiebreaker to see which city won and it turns out that it was to see which lost, and Madrid went out first. How sad! I hadn't imagined it.''
Once considered a long shot because of Spain's deep financial crisis, Madrid's bid gained momentum in the run-up to the IOC's vote by arguing the games would stimulate economic growth.
But the crowd watching on large TV screens at Madrid's Puerta de Alcala square was disheartened when the news was announced at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT, 3 p.m. EDT), just when the streets of the city, known for its late dinners and even later night life, began to fill with nocturnal revelers.
The timing helped swell the large crowd already in place next to Retiro park, where Madrid had planned to hold beach volley matches during the Games.
But as a dark cloud appeared in time to dampen the spirits of the crowd with a light shower, the party-like atmosphere was thoroughly ruined when IOC President Jacques Rogge announced that Madrid had been eliminated after a run-off vote with Istanbul following their tie in the first round.
A deathly hush descended on the crowd and the music came to a halt. The presenters on the stage thanked the crowd for coming and bade everyone good night. People immediately fell silent and started drifting away.
Madrid has now lost in its bids to host the Summer Games in 1972, 2012, 2016 and 2020.