Sports Minister Suat Kılıç has hit out at the Turkish media, accusing sectors of the press of helping ensure Istanbul lost its bid to host the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo by not fully backing the government in its vision.
Asked about the impact of the Gezi protests in Turkey’s failure to land the Games, Kılıç referred to the media's role in "exaggerating" the incidents.
“Ask it to the members of the media among you. We did not bring the Gezi incidents to the agenda. Contrary to common perception, the Gezi incidents were not taken seriously in the international community. Unfortunately in Turkey, they insisted on reports which negatively affected the candidacy of Istanbul,” he said.
The minister told a press conference yesterday that they had not observed any intense reporting in Japanese and Spanish media that might have scuttled their own countries’ attempts to land the Games in Tokyo and Madrid.
“The Japanese and Spanish media backed their Olympic bids, and they did not exaggerate any negativity in their country more than others,” said Kılıç.
He also denied that the doping cases of Turkish athletes were a “significant factor” in the failure, saying that doping was a problem for sport all over the world.
The medals of global athletes who are more famous than Turkish athletes were also requested back due to doping scandals, but the Turkish media failed to report on this, he said.
“Some [media] acted as if doping merely exists in Turkish sports, but not anywhere else,” he said.
The minister said they were fighting against doping, “not because it was reported in media, but it is poison, it is against the law of creation.”
Kılıç also slammed those “who were happy” for Turkey’s failure in its Olympic bid. “Could Turkey lose the games because we were not united? Could Turkey lose the games because some reported photos and incidents could destroy Turkey’s image?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
said the choice of Tokyo instead of Istanbul was unfair, and meant the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was turning its back on the Muslim world.
“Both Tokyo and Madrid have hosted the games before; Istanbul hasn’t. This isn't fair,” Erdogan was quoted as saying. “In a way, they are cutting ties with the 1.5 billion people of the Muslim world.”
Tokyo hosted the Games in 1964, and while Madrid has not previously hosted the Games, Barcelona did in 1992.