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SBD Global/June 17, 2013/OlympicsPrint All
There were "hundreds of pairs of swim goggles for sale in the heart of Istanbul this past week," but while the goggles "gave the bustling streets a certain sporty air, this was not good news at last for the city’s Olympic bid," according to Christopher Clarey of the N.Y. TIMES. The goggles "were being snapped up for protection against the possibility of more tear gas in Taksim Square and the adjoining Gezi Park as the standoff between protesters and the Turkish police continued." However, the timing of this "has hardly been a Turkish delight for those who hope Istanbul’s fifth bid for the Olympic Games will finally be the winning bid." Tokyo and Madrid are the other candidates. Longtime IOC member Dick Pound said, "It is potentially a pity, since my impression, from what I hear, is that the 2020 race may be Istanbul’s to lose." Istanbul, if stable, is "indeed potential catnip" to the IOC. It is "new and symbolic Olympic territory, a historic and contemporary bridge between Asia and Europe with a largely Muslim nation and a moderately Islamist government, challenging Turkey’s secular traditions." The vote is still nearly three months away, which means there is "still time for Istanbul to put some meaningful space between the past week’s violent clashes in Taksim Square and the decision." Former IOC Marketing Dir Michael Payne said, "It’s going to be quite a roller-coaster ride for everybody involved in the bid up until September" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/15).
'VOICE OF TOLERANCE': The AP reported as officials in Turkey "lashed out at protesters," leaders of Istanbul's 2020 bid "sought to diminish the impact of the unrest in a presentation Saturday to a key audience of Olympic officials from around the world." Istanbul officials said the "voice of tolerance" will prevail in the wake of the anti-government demonstrations that "have roiled Turkey for two weeks and raised questions about the country's readiness to host the Olympics." The Istanbul bid team addressed the crisis directly in a presentation to a conference of more than 200 national Olympic committees Saturday (AP, 6/15).
Spanish Olympic Committe (COE) President Alejandro Blanco, who is also president of the Madrid 2020 Olympic bid, emphasized on Sunday that there are "many possibilities" for Madrid to win the bid when the decision regarding the host city is made on Sept. 7, according to the EP. Blanco: "We hope to continue and that we win the bid on Sept. 7. Today, Madrid has many possibilities. What is clear is that there is no project better than ours." During a meeting with IOC President Jacques Rogge, Blanco also highlighted that "it will not only be Spain's Olympic Games, it will also mean a form of understanding sport and the Olympic movement." Blanco said, "We have been receiving opinions from people that have nothing to do with the candidacy, that work in the international environment, and the comments are positive toward Spain." Blanco also met with Olympic committee presidents from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Colombia and Argentina, explaining a COE-Murcia University training program that can be applied in those countries (EP, 6/16).
DAMAGE CONTROL: The EFE reported that Spanish State Commerce secretary Jaime García-Legaz appeared confident that Spain's economic crisis will not put Madrid's candidacy in danger. García-Legaz: "Spain's general economic foundation and the the Madrid 2020 budget in particular are solid, diverse and totally capable of supporting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Spain will have stable growth in the next five years. Spain has the greatest potential growth in the next decade of the five major European economies" (EFE, 6/15).