Mixed feelings on Istanbul 2020

Mixed feelings on Istanbul 2020

BELGİN AKALTAN - belgin.akaltan@hdn.com.tr
Mixed feelings on Istanbul 2020

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Until a few months ago, it was my utmost wish to host the Olympics in my beloved home city Istanbul. I wrote on April 6, “My death wish: Olympics 2020” (not that I was dying – that was figurative speech).

So, with this piece, I’ll prove I’m not a traitor. Or more precisely, not a traitoress.

I wrote how I missed every Olympic Games in my entire life because of distance, a lack of money and the like… How much I wanted to attend one before I was too old to travel.

After that piece was printed, even my closest friends criticized me for being so naïve. It helped wake me up a bit.

Oh, whatever, here, I will quote myself. Here is how I finished that piece: “In an astonishing turn of fate, I agree with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on this. (What? Come again?) I agree and share the PM’s love for sports and idea that ‘The whole world must know that Turkey has big ambitions, based on national will and a strong state.’ No, I don’t have a gun pointing at my head… The Istanbul Olympics will be unique, as unique as the city itself. It will be an unforgettable experience for whoever is involved. Give it to us. History will thank you.”

Yes, I was naïve. I agree with my friends now.

Later on, I completely lost my interest in Istanbul’s Olympic bid. I was not following it. When the day of the vote came, I did not turn on the TV. I was not enthusiastic, not as much as I was in April. Did I want Istanbul to lose? No. Did I have henna standing by just in case? No, I was just waiting with anxiety.

When Tokyo won, I was only relieved. Not rejoicing but a bit relaxed, considering that at least one problem had been eliminated from our lives through its natural course.

What made me change my mind? First, the construction mania of the people ruling us, the one-dimensional frenzy of building, building and building… Without asking, without sharing, with non-transparent decisions… They are already ruining our cities with an iron hand; if they are given a cause as glorious and legitimate as the Olympics, then imagine what they are capable of doing.

As Melike Karakartal wrote, the presentation was based on “bridge together” while the domestic strategy of the government has lately been “not to bridge together your own citizens and polarize them.”

Journalist Can Dündar tweeted “If Turkey is the one that’s depicted in Turkey’s presentation for the Olympics, then we should be living in another Turkey.”

Which brings up the point of the weird mentality of our governing party: They kind of live in a world of their own, somehow at a distant place from reality. They call what’s black “white” in Turkey, and some people seem to believe this without questioning and they expect the entire world to do the same. I mean, there will be people pointing out that it is not actually white, but charcoal black. Then they hate the person who says the truth. Well, outside Turkey, this rule does not apply. People think, act, decide and speak with their own will. (I don’t know what this mentality/mood is called in psychology. This “creating one’s own world and the state of being immersed in it.”)

You act as a warmonger on Syria in your own country and then say Istanbul is the most peaceful city… And expect people to believe you…

This is very much like the state the Turkish electorate is exposed to during every election; some kind of pre-conditioned or pre-diverted voting. For your vote to have value and not to be wasted in the system, you have to make precise calculations before voting. You cannot vote for the candidate or the party that’s in your heart. You have to think three times and most probably vote for your second favorite…

Likewise, the system prevents you from wishing your hometown had the honor and glory of hosting the Olympics. You are forced to start wishing for the opposite.

Thank you International Olympic Committee. You made the right choice.