Istanbul makes late push for 2020 as candidates feel heat

Istanbul makes late push for 2020 as candidates feel heat

BUENOS AIRES - Agence France-Presse
Istanbul makes late push for 2020 as candidates feel heat

This file photo shows Neslihan Demir during a national volleyball match. Demir is among athletes who are now Argentine, lobbying for Istanbul.

Turkey has sent a 600-strong team led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will fly to Buenos Aires from the G-20 summit in Russia tomorrow, in a bid to surpass Tokyo and Madrid. 

“Istanbul deserves to be crowned with the Olympics,” Mayor Kadir Topbaş said in a press conference on Sept. 4. 

The threat of radiation, a leaking of some International Olympic members alleged voting intentions and microscopic interrogation of doping policy focussed the minds of the three cities bidding to host the 2020 Olympics.

The Tokyo bid team found themselves unable to move on ahead of the the vote in Buenos Aires by the IOC members as to who hosts the 2020 Games.

Their press conference was dominated by questions over the potential fallout from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant and none of the answers provided by their bid chief Tsunekazu Takeda proved adequate for the audience.

Eventually the 65-year-old having answered in English for most of the press conference and clearly getting exasperated by the questioning resorted to Japanese to try and resolve the matter.

“At this point the Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe) will participate in the final presentation and will talk about this issue and provide reassurance to the IOC about the food etcetera,” he said.

“There is no issue here. Not one person in Tokyo has been affected by this issue.

“Tokyo and Fukushima are almost 250 kilometres apart. We are quite remote from Fukushima.” 

Momentum stops 

Madrid too saw their seemingly unstoppable momentum briefly stopped in its’ tracks as a Spanish paper El Mundo published names - some with photos - of up to 50 International Olympic Committee (IOC) members who were going to vote for them.

While 50 votes would give Madrid an unlikely win in the first round of voting the revelations did not sit well with the members, who vote in a secret ballot.

History suggests it can rebound as Le Parisien newspaper did a similar thing prior to the vote on the 2012 bidding in 2005 and London edged Paris in a shock result.

One senior IOC member said the revelations in El Mundo had gone down ‘like a lead balloon’ with the members, and one whose name was on the list joked it didn’t augur well for Madrid as he has not voted for the winning city for the past several Summer Games votes.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said he didn’t believe that Madrid would suffer from the revelations.

“I would say that one shouldn’t pay any attention or give credit to this type of information,” he said. 
The third candidate city Istanbul underwent a tough examination of their policy on doping especially in the light of a swathe of positive tests this year - 31 athletes alone testing positive.

However, Turkish IOC member Uğur Erdener, a doctor by profession and who has led the fight against doping in his country, insisted that the zero tolerance attitude adopted by him and the government meant that progress was being made.

Erdener, president also of the World Archery Federation, said the adverse publicity regarding the failed tests came at a price but that was life. “There is no pain without gain.” 

Tokyo and Madrid will hope that holds true for them too after their experiences on Wednesday.