IOC panel to visit 2020 bid cities

LONDON -- Seven months before the vote, the IOC is sending a panel of experts on a series of site-inspection visits that could prove influential in the race to host the 2020 Olympics.

The IOC's evaluation commission is heading to Japan this week on the first leg of its three-city tour to examine the bids from Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul.

Chaired by IOC vice president Craig Reedie of Britain, the panel will meet bid leaders, visit proposed venues and study issues such as finances, transportation, security and public support.

The visits come with all three countries facing serious political or economic challenges.

Reedie calls the evaluation process "a risk assessment."

His commission will compile a report for IOC members, who will select the host city Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.