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Bidders for 2020 Games urged to watch their words

Tales Azzoni, Associated Press

FILE - In this June 5, 2012 file photo, Nawal El Moutawakel, head of the IOC Evaluation Commission, right, and Brazil Olympic Committee President Carlos Arthur Nuzman, center, speak to workers at a subway construction site during the 3rd meeting of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Rio Olympics 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. IOC inspectors arrive for a two-day visit, beginning Sunday, Sept. 1, 2013, to deliver a clear message to organizers of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics: end delays and speed up. For their part, Rio officials are expected to promise that preparations are on course after a late start. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- The man who led Rio de Janeiro's successful bid to host the 2016 Olympics has some advice for the 2020 bidders: Watch what you say.

Carlos Nuzman, the leader of Rio's bid seven years ago, told The Associated Press that the bids teams for Madrid, Istanbul and Tokyo must pay extra attention to everything they do leading to Saturday's vote by International Olympic Committee members. A few misplaced words could prove decisive.

Nuzman, now president of Rio's local organizing committee, said there is no strong favorite among the three, so lobbying must continue.

"There will be a very small gap. ... It will be close," he said from the sidelines of the IOC meetings.

Nuzman said that at this stage it's easier for a city to lose the bid than win it. He added that bidders must avoid hurting themselves by reaching too far for an extra vote here and there.

"You have to work until the last moment," Nuzman said. "But you have to be careful with what you say, you have to be careful with how you act and how you try to get your message across."

In addition to choosing the 2020 host, the nearly 100 members gathered in Argentina will also elect the successor to IOC President Jacques Rogge, who is leaving after 12 years in charge. They also must decide whether wrestling, squash or baseball-softball will be added to the games' lineup.

Many on the bid campaigns have come to Nuzman, knowing that what he did seven years ago worked.

"They ask me to give them advice, to give them some guidance," Nuzman said. "But I have to tell them that I can't. Especially because we will want to work together with whichever city wins the bid."

Rio de Janeiro beat Madrid, Tokyo and Chicago in a vote in Copenhagen in 2009. In the final round it beat Madrid 66 votes to 32 to become the first South American city to earn the right to host the games.

Nuzman is relieved that this time he is not the one carrying the pressure of having to convince the members.

"When you look at it while standing in the eye of the hurricane, it's different," Nuzman said. "Now you can be more rational about everything that is happening. You can tell what is being done the right way and what's not. You can tell what they should be doing but they are not."

"I have a lot of years of experience in this, I know it works," Nuzman said. "I only got to where I am now because I spent a lot of time at the lobby of hotels. I could write a book about it."

One final push will be made during Sunday's closing presentations.

"You can lose a lot of votes if your final presentation is poor," Nuzman said. "I have no doubt that if your presentation is not good you will lose it. I've seen it happen."

Nuzman may no longer have the pressure of trying to win a bid, but does have the responsibility to now deliver on it. Rogge warned on Wednesday that "it's evident that there are very tight deadlines which will have to be respected" in Rio.

"I don't think there is more pressure from the IOC now," Nuzman said. "When the candidacy is over, you start putting things together, and now it's time to get to work and fine-tune the operation."


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