Matthew J. Robinson

Students guess host city

UD sport management students select Tokyo to host 2020 Summer Olympics

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(Editor's note: The UD students predicted correctly, with the International Olympic Committee announcing its selection of Tokyo as the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics on Saturday, Sept. 7.)

4:13 p.m., Sept. 5, 2013--This weekend, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will select the 2020 Summer Olympic Games host city from the three candidate cities of Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo. Students in Matthew J. Robinson’s International Sport Management course at the University of Delaware already have.

Using quantitative analysis of the information IOC members use to prepare for the vote, the students evaluated each candidate city and conducted a mock vote. Their conclusion -- Tokyo.

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“Given the challenges that are coming out of the upcoming Olympics in Sochi and Rio de Janeiro, it is time that the IOC awards the next Olympiad to a site that will present the fewest problems,” student Ben Salzer said. “Of the three finalists, Tokyo's stable economy, political support, and existing infrastructure make it the best choice."

International Sport Management is a required course for students in the sport management major. Robinson, professor of business administration in UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, is heavily involved with the Olympic movement. He leads the International Coaching Enrichment Certificate Program, a program funded by the IOC and the United States Olympic Committee, conducts research on the impact of the Olympic Games on host countries and has served as a keynote speaker at conferences held by the National Olympic Committees of South Africa, Colombia and Qatar.

Robinson asked his students to evaluate official bid documents for each of the cities, reports prepared by the IOC Evaluation Commission and secondary sources to gain an understanding of each city’s potential to host the games. They considered criteria including motivation and public support, finances, political support, venues, accommodations, transportation infrastructure and general conditions such as dates, weather, security and impact on the environment.

The students utilized Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) to quantitatively determine which city was best suited to host. AHP is a structured technique for organizing and analyzing complex decisions. It provides a comprehensive and rational framework for structuring a decision problem, representing and quantifying its elements, relating those elements to overall goals, and evaluating alternative solutions. The AHP process was made possible through the use of DecisionLens Software.

In using AHP students compared the variables against each other that led to assigned weights for those variables based on perceived importance. The students weighed finances and political support heavily. The resulting ranking placed Tokyo first, followed by Madrid and then Istanbul.

“Using the quantitative analysis, AHP, was interesting because it made Tokyo the clear favorite,” student Dylan Glickstern said.

Salzer added, "With the increased use of quantitative analysis in the sport industry, it was interesting to use the Decision Lens software in determining the best Olympic city. I expect to be using similar software in the professional world, so it was good to get some experience with it in a classroom setting."

In keeping with the IOC process, a secret ballot was also held involving the class members.

“The city that may be most deserving based on quantitative analysis is not always selected,” Robinson said. “In the 2016 vote, Rio had the lowest rating from the IOC Evaluation Commission; Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo all scored higher, but in its presentation to the IOC the Rio Delegation made an impassioned plea for the games to be held in South America for the first time. It worked.”

Prior to the students voting, Robinson made his own impassioned plea for Istanbul because of his friendship with the secretary general of the Turkish Olympic Committee, Nese Gundogan. He also pointed out that if Tokyo is selected it will mean the Asian Olympic region would have held the Summer Games in 2008 and the Winter Games in 2018. He noted Istanbul would be a great compromise choice as the city is on both the Asian and European continents.

In the end, the secret ballot voting matched the results using AHP.

“I felt that Tokyo was clearly the best city to have put in a bid for the 2020 Olympic Games,” student Mike Tampellini said. “Compared to Madrid and Istanbul, Tokyo would be able to provide efficient transportation, be well off financially and create the best experience for athletes and spectators alike."

On Saturday, the students will see if the IOC agrees.

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