Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday (September 8) that had Istanbul won the bid to host the 2020 Olympics, it would have provided the hope for peace to the whole of the Middle East and fresh air to the Games themselves.
Istanbul lost out to Tokyo in Saturday's (September 7) vote at the 125th International Olympic Committee Executive Session in Buenos Aires
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Erdogan was part of Istanbul's presentation team in Argentina but flew back to Turkey shortly after the vote.
For Istanbul, it was its fifth unsuccessful bid in the last six votes to host a summer Olympics.
The city had pitched itself as a new region for the Games, the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and as a vehicle to help foster peace in the Middle East. But the conflict in neighboring Syria and recent anti-government demonstrations in Turkey overshadowed the bid.
"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. "But obviously, Istanbul's potential was not taken into consideration and Tokyo was the winner.
"Tokyo hosted the games before. Again in the past, London and Athens hosted the games a couple of times. If Turkey would have been chosen, that could bring fresh air to the Games. But this does not prevent us looking to the future with hope."
Tokyo won what one insider had called a "least-ugly" contest by most effectively covering its blemishes. Rival Madrid has been laid low by the economy and Istanbul has been beset by anti-government protests.
Tokyo won by a landslide, 60 votes to Istanbul's 36, after Madrid was eliminated in a first round of voting.
The Japanese capital won the right to stage the sporting extravaganza for the second time, having hosted in 1964 when the Games first went to Asia.
Tokyo in its pitch highlighted its solid finances and strong track record of delivering on promises. Olympic President Jacques Rogge described it as "a safe pair of hands."
The next summer Olympics will be hosted by Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and the preparations for that Games have been plagued by delays and complications.
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