The three cities hoping to win the right to host the 2020 Olympic Summer Games completed a significant step towards that goal on Monday as they lodged their bid dossiers with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
All three cities sent high profile delegations to IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, handing over their dossiers which they hope will ultimately lead to them convincing the majority of the 100+ IOC members to vote for them on September 7 in Buenos Aires.
The three candidates are Istanbul, who have put together the most credible of their bids after failing four times previously, Madrid, who are bidding to make it third time lucky after finishing third for the 2012 and second for the 2016 editions, and favourites Tokyo, the only one to have previously hosted the Games in 1964.
Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul, presented the dossier personally and said that it was an historic moment for not only the city but Turkey as well.
"Today is an historic moment for Istanbul and the Turkish nation," said Topbas, who turns 68 on Tuesday.
"Istanbul 2020 is the first sports bid in Turkish history to have been officially launched by the Prime Minister, and it has been identified as a strategic national priority. The Games would enhance Istanbul's growing global status as a place to visit, do business and, increasingly, stage world-class sport.
"We are all aligned behind our shared vision: hosting the Games for the first time would be the defining achievement in nearly 100 years of the Republic of Turkey," added Topbas, who in 2009 became the first person to be re-elected to the post of Mayor of Istanbul.
Tokyo, who have made great play on how winning the race would help heal the wounds suffered by Japan in the tsunami that wrought destruction in 2011, said they had learnt a lot from their third place finish for the 2016 Games.
"With tremendous support from people in Tokyo and across Japan, we have celebrated a memorable milestone today with the submission of our Candidature File," said Japanese IOC member and former international showjumper Tsunekazu Takeda.
"Based on lessons from our bid for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we have retained the best of that bid plan while adding important new strengths.
"Now that our Candidature File is complete, Tokyo is one step closer to implementing an innovative and inspiring Games plan.
"The Games in 2020 in Tokyo will offer athletes, spectators and Olympic and Paralympic Family members a true once-in-a-lifetime experience."
Madrid handed over their dossier last with city mayor Ana Botella among the delegation.
Despite the dire economic crisis in Spain they are emboldened by having at least 80% of their venues already built and Botella said that their bid was not just a parochial one but one for the whole country.
"It is a project the whole country is behind and a dream for all Spaniards," she said.
"The proof can be seen in the fact that three levels of government are represented here - the city, the regional and the national.
"We are here to give our support to the countless people who are working for and believe in Madrid's Olympic aspirations."
The next crucial stage for the candidates comes in March when the IOC Evaluation Commission - headed by IOC vice-president Craig Reedie - visits them and then submits a report afterwards while the trio then make a presentation in early July to the IOC in Lausanne.
Members of the delegation of Madrid (L to R) Miguel Cardenal, president of Council of SportAna Botella, Mayor of Madrid and Alejandro Blanco, IOC member pose , Ana Botella, Mayor of Madrid and Alejandro Blanco pose with the candidature files prior to the hand over, on January 7, 2013 at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.
Members of the delegation of Istanbul (L to R) Ali Kiremitcioglu, CEO, IOC member and NOC President, Prof. Ugur Erdener, Major of Istanbul, Kadir Topbas and Bid Committee Leader, Hasan Arat, pose with the candidature files prior to the hand over on January 7, 2013 at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.
Tokyo 2020 CEO Masato Mizuno poses with the candidature files prior to the handover on January 7, 2013 at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.