Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is accusing the International Olympic Committee of turning its back on the Muslim world by choosing Tokyo over Istanbul as host of the 2020 Olympic Games.
“Both Tokyo and Madrid have hosted the games before; Istanbul hasn’t. It hasn’t been fair,” Erdogan said according to Turkish media quoted by Reuters Monday evening. “In a way, they are cutting ties with the 1.5-billion-people Muslim world.”
The vote went 60-36 in favor of Tokyo over Istanbul with Madrid having been eliminated in the first round of voting.
But the snub may be rooted in a variety of the country’s issues. Those include a violent police crackdown on demonstrations in Istanbul and elsewhere against Erdogan’s authoritarian-style rule, the continued jailing of journalists, the raging civil war over the border in Syria, as well as high-profile cases of athletic doping.
Erdogan defended his country’s athletic programs, saying “We have said ‘zero tolerance against doping’ and have started our work.”
Daniel Greenfield at FrontPage Magazine calls Erdogan’s complaint about the International Olympic Committee’s decision “a serious case of sour grapes.”
This was Istanbul’s fifth attempt to win the chance to host the Olympic Games, all of which were rejected. Erdogan traveled personally to Buenos Aires straight from the G20 summit in Russia to meet with Olympic officials this past weekend as did the prime ministers of Japan and Spain.
In its bid, Turkey promoted itself as the crossroads of Europe and Asia as well as a new region for the Olympic Games. Erdogan said the choice of Istanbul had the potential of promoting Middle East peace.
“If the Games would have been hosted in a Muslim country for the very first time, it would give hope for an alliance of civilizations in a region striving for peace,” Erdogan said.