2020 DECISION DAY: Doping Concerns Cast Long Shadow as Istanbul Leads Off

September 7, 2013

By Keir Radnedge

Doping, unfortunately for Istanbul, was left as the dominant theme after the Turkish city’s presentation kicked off the 2020 Olympic decision day.

Uncertainties have dominated speculation ahead of the presentations about the negative issues assailing not only Istanbul but also Tokyo (Fukushima fall-out) and Madrid (economic problems).

The original draw meant that Istanbul kicked off, introduced by bid chairman Hasan Arat and with Prime Minister Recep Erdogan having flown in overnight from the G20 summit in St Petersburg.

Prof Ugur Erdener, Turkey’s IOC member, took a gamble on insisting on Turkey’s zero tolerance stance on doping but that was merely a reminder that barely a month has passed without further positive dope tests allegations or punishments marring the nation’s sports image.

The immediate theme was the power of youth in the nation, which talked directly into one of the Olympic movements major concerns.

Next came the construction and economic arguments with a sudden switch away from the bloating national plan figure to a Games creation budget crashed down at $2.9bn, an acceptance that the financial boast of the early bid days was misplaced.

Sports Minister Suat Kilic underlined Istanbul’s concerns over the doping issue by promising a greater investment in the fight as well as tough new legislation.

Next came Prime Minister Erdogan, starting with messages of peace and love (Turkey bordering Syria in the east) and then moving on to national ambitions. He pandered to the Olympic concern for youth and proclaimed that a vote for Istanbul – “in the land of youth in the city of tolerance and peace” – would “truly embody the Olympic spirit.”

Istanbul paraded 50 youth would-be young Olympians and bid chairman Hasan Arat, in summing up, appealed: “Consider your future and ours . . . embrace a new culture and empower a new generation.”

Keir Radnedge has been covering football worldwide for more than 40 years, writing 33 books, from tournament guides to comprehensive encyclopedias, aimed at all ages.

His journalism career included The Daily Mail for 20 years as well as The Guardian and other national newspapers and magazines in the UK and around the world. He is a former editor, and remains a lead columnist, with World Soccer, generally recognised as the premier English language magazine on global football.

In addition to his writing, Keir has been a regular analyst for BBC radio and television, Sky Sports, Sky News, Aljazeera and CNN.

Keir Radnedge’s Twitter: @KeirRadnedge

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