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Turkey loses Olympic Bid

8 September 2013

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) last night, voted for Tokyo to become the Olympic city for 2020.

Istanbul and Madrid were the other two contenders for the title.

Istanbul had been the hot favourite for most of last year and its pitch looked to have been successful when Madrid was initially dropped in the voting process and the choices came down to Tokyo and Istanbul.

Istanbul, making its fifth overall bid, pressed its case to take the Olympics for the first time to a predominantly Muslim country; to a city linking the two continents of Europe and Asia

Prime Minister Erdogan, once a highly successful mayor of Istanbul, had flown straight to Argentina from the G-20 meeting in Russia in order to give a last minute boost to the Turkish pitch.

With his home city’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Summer Games, due to be decided at the meeting in Argentina, Erdogan has identified success in the Olympic bid, as a symbol of the country’s emergence as a rising power on the world stage.

Erdogan was looking for a measure of international recognition and a political and economic boost.

However, Turkey’s image has been badly damaged by the clashes between protesters and police in June – so much so, that one minister announced that if Istanbul failed to win the Olympics, it would be the demonstrators’ fault.

The massive protests that brought international attention to Istanbul in May and June were initially sparked by the unpopular redevelopment one of the last green areas in the city – Gezi Park. The city’s building boom was already highly controversial before the demonstrations began, and Olympic plans would only accelerate the city’s dramatic transformation—and the inevitable backlash.   

Accusations of government authoritarianism have continued, while Erdogan pointed a finger at a supposed international conspiracy, including international media and an interest rate lobby, intended to weaken his government.

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