Istanbul 2020

Istanbul’s chances of hosting 2020 Olympics

1 Comment

The International Olympic Committee will make the first of three major votes at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday.

Nearly 100 IOC members will choose the host city of the 2020 Olympics — Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo — via secret ballot beginning at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time with the winner scheduled to be announced between 4 and 4:30. For more on what happens Saturday, click here.

OlympicTalk will look at the chances each city has of winning the vote. Here is a rundown of Istanbul:

Turkey’s largest city (population 13 million) was the trendy pick to host the 2020 Olympics by reporters in 2013 prediction columns nine months ago. The bridge between Europe and Asia wasn’t as steady as Madrid or Tokyo, but its economy and sporting desire were growing together, hosting major events in golf, soccer, swimming and tennis. Its slogan has long been “Bridge Together,” with the phrase “History in the Making” becoming its theme in the final days.

The last few months have not been kind to Istanbul’s prospects. More than two million people participated in anti-government protests in Turkey in June. Five were killed and more than 8,000 injured, according to reports. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used by authorities. Thousands gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square and other areas calling for the resignation of the prime minister, who will reportedly fly to Buenos Aires to help pitch Istanbul 2020.

Then one of the largest doping scandals in sports history enveloped the country, especially its track and field program that includes Olympic medalists. In August, Turkey’s track and field federation suspended 31 athletes for two years. Granted, one could argue that’s a positive for Turkey, that the nation is catching cheats with seven years to clean it up altogether.

“The fact that so many doping tests are being conducted and athletes are being exposed is having a positive impact on the Olympic world. It is a show of Turkey’s determination to stamp out doping and its determination to clean up sports,” Istanbul 2020 bid leader Hasan Arat said, according to The Associated Press. “We are determined to go into the 2020 Games with clean athletes. This is a zero-tolerance (for doping) step and Turkey will not make any concessions on the issue.”

The current civil war in Syria, which borders Turkey to the south, is not helping, either.

Istanbul 2020’s promotional video

So, how does Istanbul stack up? The AP described its status as “slipping.”

Robert Livingstone is the producer of GamesBids.com, a website dedicated to handicapping Olympic bid cities since 1998. He said that, despite Istanbul’s noted question marks, much can change in seven years between the vote and the actual staging of the Games.

The IOC has never awarded the Games to a predominantly Muslim country, which could work in Istanbul’s favor given the 2016 Olympics were awarded to Rio de Janeiro, marking the first Games held in South America.

“The Olympic movement can open the door to a new culture,” Arat, a former pro basketball player, told Agence France-Press. “It can bridge Olympic culture to new culture. A new bridge to historical impact, with 8,000 years of history the Olympic movement is not just giving the Olympic Games to a city — they (the IOC) would be giving hope, trust and peace to a region.”

Istanbul would globalize the Olympics more than Madrid or Tokyo, whose nations hosted previous Olympics.

“There’s no doubt (Istanbul) could get the job done from an infrastructure and organizational perspective,” Livingstone said. “They have to sell the IOC that it’s a good place to go.”

Istanbul didn’t come close to convincing the IOC on four previous occasions — 2000 (fifth place among five finalists), 2004 (didn’t make final cut of five cities), 2008 (fourth of five) and 2012 (didn’t make final cut of five cities).

“This is their best chance ever,” Livingstone said. “Time has passed, and they’ve made all those improvements. They moved from a developing nation to a developed nation. The way these votes go, they definitely have a chance. Nobody’s ruled out.”

GamesBids.com rated Istanbul a close second to Tokyo in its most recent predictions. The gap between Istanbul and third-place Madrid is more than three times the gap between Tokyo and Istanbul, according to GamesBids’ formula.

Livingstone, covering his fourth IOC bid city session this week, said he thought the vote will go like this: Madrid will advance through the first round with a strong contingent of voters with either Istanbul or Tokyo eliminated. From there, the voters of the eliminated city could pool with the one still alive, potentially overtaking Madrid.

“Istanbul’s in the race, but it’s a tricky one to handicap,” Livingstone said. “It’s going to be pretty tight.”

Key information for IOC session in Buenos Aires

Usain Bolt wins in injury return, last race before Olympics

Usain Bolt
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Usain Bolt won his first race since suffering a strained hamstring, and his last race before the Olympics, clocking 19.89 to win a 200m in London on Friday night.

Watch the race here. Full meet results are here.

“I’m getting there, I’m not fully in shape, I need more work, but over time I’ll be fine,” Bolt said on the BBC. “I don’t think I executed well. … The key thing is I came out injury-free.”

Bolt ran hard through the line, appearing to grimace in his final several strides after coming around the turn with a small lead. He prevailed over Panama’s Alonso Edward (20.04) and Great Britain’s Adam Gemili (20.07), but the field didn’t include any of Bolt’s biggest perceived Olympic threats.

Bolt last raced three weeks ago, qualifying for the Jamaican Olympic Trials 100m final. He pulled out before the final with the hamstring injury but was still placed on the Olympic team in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay via medical exemption.

He goes into the Olympics (the 100m final is Aug. 14) ranked Nos. 4 and 5 in the world this year in the 100m and 200m but very arguably still the favorite in both races.

In 2012, Bolt was defeated by countryman Yohan Blake in the Jamaican Olympic Trials 100m and 200m, then beat Blake in both races in London.

In 2015, American Justin Gatlin entered the world championships as the world No. 1 in the 100m and 200m. Again, Bolt won both races.

This year’s rankings:
100m
1. Justin Gatlin (USA) — 9.80
2. Trayvon Bromell (USA) — 9.84
3. Jimmy Vicaut (FRA) — 9.86
4. Usain Bolt (JAM) — 9.88

200m
1. LaShawn Merritt (USA) — 19.74
2. Justin Gatlin (USA) — 19.75
3. Ameer Webb (USA) — 19.85
4. Miguel Francis (ANT) — 19.88
5. Usain Bolt (JAM) — 19.89

Earlier Friday, American Keni Harrison broke the 100m hurdles world record, two weeks after failing to make the Olympic team.

The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller ran the fastest women’s 400m in the world this year, a personal-best 49.55, cementing her status as the biggest threat to Allyson Felix in the Olympics.

Felix, who won the Olympic Trials in 49.68, was not in Friday’s race. Felix won the 2015 World Championships in 49.26, with Miller taking silver in 49.67.

Vicaut won the men’s 100m in 10.02 seconds, with a slight tailwind, against a lackluster field.

Vicaut came into this meet as an Olympic medal contender, one of three men to go sub-9.90 multiple times this year, but leaves it with his medal chances slightly lower.

MORE: Details on the U.S. Olympic team, largest of any nation in Rio

Keni Harrison breaks 100m hurdles world record after missing Olympic team

Keni Harrison
AP
1 Comment

Keni Harrison broke a 28-year-old world record in the 100m hurdles on Friday, two weeks after she failed to make the U.S. Olympic team.

Harrison, 23, clocked 12.20 seconds at a meet in London, beating the old mark by .01. Watch the race here.

In 1988, Bulgaria’s Yordanka Donkova clocked 12.21.

“Not making the Olympic team I was truly upset, and I wanted to come out here and do what I know I could have done,” Harrison said on the BBC. “I was coming out here with a vengeance to show these girls what I have.”

Harrison, who on May 28 broke the American record with a 12.24-second win at the Prefontaine Classic, was sixth at the Olympic Trials on July 8, when the top three made the team for Rio.

The three women who beat Harrison at Trials finished second, third and fourth on Friday — Brianna RollinsKristi Castlin and Nia Ali.

MORE: Details on the U.S. Olympic team, largest of any nation in Rio