PM links religion to bid to host Olympic Games

PM links religion to bid to host Olympic Games

PM links religion to bid to host Olympic Games

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (2L) and his wife Emine Erdoğan attend the women’s qualification game Olympic basketball match between Turkey and Angola. REUTERS Photo

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has questioned why the Olympic Games have never been hosted by a Muslim majority country, speaking to reporters in London.

“No country with a majority of Muslim population has ever hosted the Olympics,” Erdoğan said in London after watching the Turkish women’s basketball team beating Angola 72-50 in its first Olympic match.

“People will ask ‘Why? What is missing [in these countries]?’” he said, accompanied by his wife Emine Erdoğan and his daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan in London, where he lobbies to promote Istanbul’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics. Erdoğan met with International Olympic Committee (IOC) head Jacques Rogge July 27 before attending the opening ceremony.

“It was a good meeting, the decision will be made in Rogge’s term and the next Olympic chief will follow the preparations of the host city,” the prime minister said.

Istanbul, Tokyo and Madrid were all shortlisted for the 2020 Games by the IOC last month. The host of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games will be announced on Sept. 7, 2013.

Turkey is also bidding to host the 2020 European Football Championships, but both the IOC and UEFA have made it clear that the country can not host both events in the same year.

Erdoğan’s efforts in London make it clear that Turkey’s priority is hosting the Olympics. “Istanbul is a city where Europe and Asia meet, an intersection of different civilizations,” Erdoğan said.

“All European countries are suffering economic troubles, but Turkey is in a different place. We have no flaws to host the Olympics.”

The prime minister also noted that Istanbul’s rivals for the 2020 Olympics had already hosted the event. “This is the third time for London, Madrid was the host twice,” he said. “Tokyo has hosted three games. Istanbul has bid to host the Olympics five times but has never been handed the rights. This is not a fair approach, and I shared this situation with Rogge.”