bidJust eight months before a final vote is to be made, three candidate cities are leading and have submitted their bid plans to the IOC in an effort to be the host of the 2020 Olympics. The three cities which are leading the pack are Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo. I would like it to be known that I am fine attending the Olympics (Ahem, advertisers) on someone else’s dime in any of these three beautiful places.

Leaders from Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo were handing over their documents at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee, setting the stage for the final months of a global campaign featuring three cities bidding again after previous defeats.

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 plan of venues, budgets, financial guarantees, security, accommodations, transportation and other key aspects of the multibillion-dollar projects.

The files are to be released publicly by the bid cities on 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.

It is always a mystery to me about how this extremely political process works, and why there aren’t more candidates at this time.

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.

I am also wondering if it is possible to hop down to Vegas and toss a quick bet on one of these cities?

Istanbul is bidding again after failed attempts for the Olympics of 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. Madrid is back after finishing third for the 2012 Games and second for 2016. Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 Olympics, finished 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.

While bookmakers list Tokyo as the favorite, Istanbul holds the advantage of representing a new destination for the Olympics, a key factor in recent host city votes.