Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid made the first cut among bidders to host the 2020 Olympic Games at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday.
Baku and Doha were dropped from the running, IOC officials announced at a news conference.
The IOC will decide which city will host the 2020 Olympics in a final vote on September 7, 2013, at Buenos Aires.
To trim the field at this stage, IOC officials were looking mainly at a city's ability to host a major sporting event, ranking their transportation and other infrastructure challenges they face to ramp up in time for the event.
Tokyo are the only one of the candidates to have hosted the event and are seen widely as the early front runners.
Istanbul's chances were seen as taking a hit when Turkey also announced they were bidding for the 2020 European football championship.
IOC President Jacques Rogge said earlier this month that IOC rules state that a Games host country cannot hold another major sports event in the same year.
Ordinarily Madrid would be seen as running Tokyo close as they beat them in the race for 2016 and finished runners-up to Rio de Janeiro, but the spectre of Spain's dire financial crisis hangs over them.
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