TOKYO, SEPT. 15 -- If the host city for the 1996 Olympics is about to be picked, can the 1998 Winter Games be far behind?
Six candidate cities are in Tokyo and pushing hard for '98 as the International Olympic Committee gets set to open its annual meeting Sunday.
The focus will be Tuesday's election of the host city for '96, the 100th anniversary of the rebirth of the Olympics. But with the Summer and Winter Games now held two years apart, that means that only a year remains before the next winter host is picked, and the hopefuls are missing no chance to make their case.
All six -- Salt Lake City; Socchi, U.S.S.R.; Jaca, Spain; Aosta, Italy; Ostersund, Sweden, and Nagano, Japan -- have large delegations in Tokyo.
Videotapes, glossy brochures and numerous speakers created visions of snow-covered ski runs nestled minutes away from squeaky-clean cities with nightlife and state-of-the-art arenas.
"Sweden has so much experience," Bo Victor, chairman of the Ostersund Bidding Committee, said. "We have bid five times before and we have failed. After five times, your concept should be perfect. Well, we hope to be."
The three cities already awarded the Games made progress reports to the IOC's executive board.
Organizers from the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona and Winter Games in Albertville, France, along with the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, were questioned about where their construction, financing and internal management stood.
Barcelona organizers had bad news for equestrian events. Fears of a new outbreak of equine flu have been reported in southern Spain and the International Equestrian Federation will decide in November if its Olympic events will have to be staged elsewhere.
IOC spokeswoman Michele Verdier said all was fine in Lillehammer after initial confusion over where the sports would be staged and how much it would cost. Venues now will be in a tight radius and the budget of $1.16 billion is being submitted for government approval.
The six candidates to succeed Barcelona as Summer Games host -- Athens; Atlanta; Belgrade; Manchester, England; Melbourne, Australia, and Toronto -- continued their efforts to win votes in what is shaping up as a close race.
"This is the most difficult decision I can remember in my 22 years on the IOC," Agustin Arroyo, a member from Ecuador, said.
The '98 candidates go before the board Sunday for brief quizzing. All will submit budgets in the billion-dollar range and stress their facilities, sports history and sense of local support.