On the heels of nationwide anti-government protests that have swept the streets of Turkey in recent weeks, Turkish officials are traveling to Switzerland to make the case that Istanbul is the right place for the 2020 Olympics. Turkish officials will plead their case Wednesday at the International Olympics Committee meeting in Lausanne, as the IOC meets to choose whether Istanbul, Tokyo, or Madrid will host the games in 2020.
Norwegian IOC member Gerhard Heiberg told the AP that the nationwide anti-government protests and the government’s violent response is an issue in the committee’s selection. “Although the games will be seven years ahead, what’s going on (in Turkey) right now is important to the voting of the members.”
He added, “This is a good opportunity for Turkey, for Istanbul, to answer the questions and lay it out in the open how they think, what they’re going to do about it.”
Turkey is angling to host the first Olympic games in a country with a Muslim majority. Many believe Tokyo has the edge in its second consecutive bid to host the games. Madrid is seen by many as a safe backup, despite Spain’s lagging economy. Istanbul, bidding on the games for the fifth time, needs to convince voters that the country is a safe destination for the world’s athletes and visitors.