Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul have made it through to the final round in the competition to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) cut the list of cities to three Wednesday evening in Quebec City, Canada.
Qatari capital Doha and Baku, Azerbaijan, were excluded from the running.
“The most difficult decision we have ever had to take with regard to a shortlist,” committee vice president Thomas Bach said.
“We need something to lift up the country; the games will help re—energize the people,” said Tsunekazu Takeda, president of Japan’s Olympic Committee. North—eastern Japan was hit by a magnitude—9 earthquake, followed by a tsunami and an accident at a nuclear plant in March 2011.
Tokyo hosted the 1964 Summer Games.
Madrid’s bid could be hampered by Spain’s current economic problems, which include an unemployment rate of 24 per cent.
The head of Madrid’s bid, Alejandro Blanco, earlier denied that the city might withdraw its application for economic reasons.
Istanbul is making its fifth attempt to host the games. It is also making a simultaneous bid to host football’s 2020 European Championships. The IOC has already told Turkey that it must bid for one or the other but not both.
Qatar, which is due to host the 2022 football World Cup, failed to make it through to the final three despite its solid finances. The main reason was that it planned to stage the games in October to avoid the summer heat in the Gulf.
Baku lost out because of its mediocre infrastructure and lack of experience in organizing large events.
The IOC is to make a final decision on the host on September 7, 2013, at a meeting in Buenos Aires.