Top Olympic Bid Stories of 2013: #5 Istanbul's 2020 Bid Struggles With Domestic Uprising

#5 Istanbul’s 2020 Bid Struggles With Domestic Uprising
On May 31, immediately after one of the most important presentations of the campaign in St. Petersburg, Russia, and in front of many IOC members as well as important stakeholders at the International Sport Federations and National Olympic Committees – the @GamesBids official twitter feed tweeted a congratulatory message to Istanbul 2020 for a great performance.
Just seconds later came this response from @ckazok, “are you aware of what’s going on right now in Istanbul? People are teargassed in Taksim by brutal police force.”
Suddenly, everything began to unravel for Istanbul’s Olympic dreams.
Just three days earlier Istanbul lost it’s lead on’s BidIndex, one which it had held throughout the campaign. Now a peaceful civil protest that suddenly became violent in Taksim Gezi Park grabbed international headlines and tarnished the bid’s messaging that Istanbul was a place for young people who could could peacefully bridge cultures and welcome the Games.
Bid officials scrambled into crisis mode and released a statement to try to put a positive spin on the unfolding events, but the situation continued to spin out of control.
But even as the Taksim Square protests fell from the headlines, on August 5th Istanbul faced a new scandal when 31 Turkish athletes were suspended amid doping allegations.
As these Olympic bid races go, it’s impossible to determine if the Taksim Square protests and doping scandals cost Istanbul the Games when Tokyo won the election September 7th – but these issues certainy framed Turkey’s campaign in the final months of Istanbul 2020.
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About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.