Rafael Nadal made rather short work of his US Open semi-final. But the man from Mallorca was left wondering what his country had to do in order to get the Olympic Games nod. Nadal flew past France’s Richard Gasquet in about two hours but was abruptly halted by the news of Madrid losing the bid to host the Games for the third time in as many tries. Rafa was not alone.
As the news crept out from Buenos Aires that the Spanish capital had been voted out, thousands broke down in front of Puerta de Alcalá, one of the city’s landmarks. However, Istanbul was bouncing with joy. It seemed that losing to Tokyo worked well for the faithful in Turkey. They rejoiced to loss, as any other would have done for a win, for the hoax of a peaceful nation was what the Turkish delegation was selling. They failed and rather miserably. Turkey was perhaps using the Olympics bid, in an attempt to mask several environmental violations and initiate large-scale construction in central parts of the city.
Turkey tried to woo the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with pictures of athletes crossing the Bosphorus Bridge from Asia to Europe, affectively uniting in two continents. It would have become the first predominately Muslim country to host the Games, and was a heavy favourite among the bookmakers. The IOC, and in relative terms FIFA as well, were award hosting rights to countries and cities that had never hosted any major tournament. Rio de Janeiro was handpicked by the IOC to carry the Olympic baton into the third world in 2016 shortly after FIFA chose Brazil as the host nation for the football World Cup in 2014. The situation was different in 2009 when Brazil’s economy was one of the few to hit just minor bumps in the global financial crisis. But the world soon recovered and spelt bad news for all developing countries, Brazil included. FIFA President Joseph Blatter was already quoted regretting his decision to choose the country after thousands of protest and scuffles marred the Confederations Cup earlier this year.
The gap between awarding hosting rights and the actual Games was perhaps what the members looked at. That was where Istanbul’s flaw lied. Inevitable protests would have scarred constructions and even the Games in 2020. The Committee could not afford that. Moreover $19 billion would have been poured in for the Games. It was an investment far too large under the present market gloom, specifically when Athens and Greece is still reeling from their over expansive budget in 2004. The country is now one of the worst economies in the Euro zone.
Contrastingly, Madrid seemed all fine. They had 80% of the infrastructure ready, some of which were prepared for the 2008 bid. Sporting icons such as Paul Gasol and even FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi were flying the Madrid mast high. Sadly, the country’s grim economy proved to be the decisive factor. Spain has its highest population unemployed ever since the World Wars and recession has hit its people hard, so much so that once affordable football tickets are a luxury now.
Moreover, the two countries were severely stuck in the doping muck that crept up in the panel presentation just before the voting. Turkey had just recently banned over 200 athletes who had tested positive for banned substances. Meanwhile, a Spanish judge had ordered that thousands of blood samples collected from a ‘doping doctor’ be destroyed before the World Anti-Doping Agency got their hands on them. The doctor had alleged that he was providing plasma to several “top athletes” from football, tennis and even motorsports.
That being said, Tokyo promised to clean up its nuclear spill and provide the world its best Games ever. It has the budget, it has the experience from the ’64 Games and it definitely has the economy. The Nikkei dropped to its lowest after the Sendai earthquake and tsunami in 2011, but Japan still recovered, and recovered well. In a climate of global gloom, here was country and a city that showed signs of clear weather, free of turmoil. Tokyo was indeed the IOC’s best choice. All it has to do now, is live up to expectations.