Int'l Olympic Committee Officials Say Syrian War Cost Istanbul 2020 Olympic Games Bid
Two IOC members said that "the bloody Syrian civil war cost Istanbul votes over Tokyo to host the world's biggest sporting event in 2020," according to REUTERS. Istanbul -- "who had been trying to bring the Olympic Games for the first time to a predominantly Muslim country" -- reached the final round of voting for the first time after four previous failed attempts. There had been concerns that Istanbul could suffer from the fallout over the Syrian conflict, "which has seen over 500,000 refugees cross over into Turkish territory, although several members denied it would." Longtime IOC member Prince Albert of Monaco said, "The geopolitical situation certainly played a role. IOC members prefer surefire bets ... Istanbul like the others was a really good candidacy" (REUTERS, 9/8). REUTERS' Julian Linden wrote less than two hours before Tokyo was announced as the host city for the 2020 Olympics on Saturday, "a moment of confusion triggered premature celebrations among Turkish supporters who mistakenly thought Istanbul had won." Dozens of Turkish journalists "began cheering and congratulating each other in the media center outside the hotel where the vote was taking place," only to realize they had got it wrong. The mix-up "happened after the first of two rounds of voting between the three candidates, Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid." When Istanbul and Madrid both received 26 votes, an extra vote was required to split them, "which led to the misunderstanding" (REUTERS, 9/8).