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Istanbul Mayor concerned protests could derail Olympics bid

Jun 24, 2013, 4:58 PM EDT

OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images

With the IOC’s decision on which city will host the Games in 2020 drawing closer, Istanbul’s Mayor Kadir Topbas warned his citizens Monday that the ongoing protests could derail years of work and effort put toward bidding on the Olympics.

“We have now entered the final stages of the 2020 Olympic [bidding],” Mayor Topbas pleaded through the media Monday. “If these [protests] continue and there are problems, the 2020 Games will be nothing but a dream. [Turkey] stands to lose, Istanbul stands to lose. We all know who will gain.”

Istanbul’s Olympic officials have said that the IOC members are understanding of the events in Turkey, and of a timeline that still puts us seven years away from the Games. They don’t believe it will have any bearing on Turkey’s fifth bid to host the Olympics in the last six cycles, dating back to 1996.

But other anonymous IOC members admitted that the protests have been a “big blow” to Turkey’s bid, and that Tokyo has now hopped into the driver’s seat. The IOC will vote on which city – Tokyo, Istanbul, or Madrid – will win the honor of hosting at a meeting September 7 in Buenos Aires.

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