First we should erect a bridge to peace

First we should erect a bridge to peace

One of the well-known members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Prince Albert of Monaco, is reported to have said, “We have chosen a safe pair of hands.” 

In the bid for the 2020 games, Istanbul emphasized that it was the meeting point of continents and cultures; Madrid claimed it would host the least costly organization of modern times, saying, “We will show you that money is not a problem.” The fact that the Spanish capital, most of whose facilities are already built, was eliminated in the first round shows how the Olympic ship sails. 

There were two candidates left: Tokyo and Istanbul… Japan, which had experienced one of history’s biggest nuclear disasters only two-and-a-half years ago, had the thesis that went: “We are economically strong and politically stable. We are a country where its people live in peace and a country that has kept its promise to the world up until today [having hosted one summer and two winter Olympics successfully].” 

No chance for those that are small

I tried to explain in previous articles that the Olympic Games are now such a huge “circus” that small nations and problematic economies cannot handle them. Even if we accept it or not, the new world order has inflated this sporting organization, enlarged it and brought it to incredible dimensions. I have this claim: Regardless of their welfare level, from now on there is no chance that countries such as Sweden, Norway and Denmark will ever host the Olympic Games. The organization brings such a huge financial burden, it is not logical for a country with a small population to attempt such a thing that would result in a tax load for generations to come. What happened to Greece after the 2004 Olympics should be reviewed also from this point of view. 

On the other hand, those who monitor the capital traffic in the world naturally stay away from candidates that have restricted resources. Developing countries and dynamic economies like us may look positive from the perspective of enlarging the market. However, it should not be overlooked that our region contains major political risks and has gotten used to living amid low-intensity clashes. Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel and Egypt… In seven years, the region consisting of these countries may not look like a “new market” in the eyes of those directing money, but a life-and-death situation – which is partially the case today. Turkey and the city of Istanbul, which has a better place than Turkey in the perception of an ordinary Westerner, unfortunately cannot exclude themselves from this chaotic region… For this reason, even the card of “We will spend 19 billion dollars in seven years” which under normal circumstances would appeal to, moreover water the mouths of multinational giants, did not work. Global capitalism preferred “a safe pair of hands.” Match-fixing, doping, that they won many medals in the last Olympics… I think all of these were trivial factors in the minds of the 60 members of the IOC who voted for Tokyo… 

Fourth Asian Summer Olympics 

The Asian continent has hosted three Summer Olympic Games up until now. The first was 1964 in Tokyo, then 1988 in Seoul and finally 2008 in Beijing… The fact that 2020 was given back to Japan can be read as the extension of the search for the peace and security of mankind; you can also read it as an apology owed to the continent where more than 4 billion people live (60 percent of the world population) and where extraordinary economic developments have taken place recently, where strong players demand that cards are redistributed… 

Let’s get this straight: while the “grumpy old” Europe, the economy of which has stagnated, has hosted 15 games, it not quite fair that Asia has only gotten its fourth. This argument may give us a chance in our next bid to be more courageous in our “Islam” emphasis. Of course this is predicated on the hope that the Islamic world is able to eliminate its own internal fights… 

The world has declared that it has found a region that was exposed to a radiation leak only 30 months ago safer than our beloved Istanbul. This is sad indeed… Now, we have this question: When are we, who reside in this land and who think we can solve every problem by fighting, going to understand that our biggest shortcoming is peace? (The ministers who have sent tweets containing “henna” are exempt from this question.) 

Yiğiter Uluğ is a columnist for daily Radikal in which this piece was published on Sept 9. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.