Muslim world cities could realistically pitch to host the Olympics from 2020 and beyond, despite cultural, political and climatic hurdles, a leading Oxford University academic said.
Kasim Randeree, a researcher at the internationally renowned Said Business School, said in a study that Istanbul, which has bid in vain on four previous occasions, tops the list.
With London readying to pass the baton to Rio de Janeiro, which will host South America’s first ever Games in 2016, the report explored the possibility of a Muslim nation hosting the coveted sports event for the first time in Olympics history.
“From the perspective of the broader international community, engagement with the Muslim world could not be more necessary or timely … and sport has historically been demonstrated as an effective tool in achieving similar goals,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Randeree, as saying.
“It is potentially in their long-term geopolitical and socio-economic interests for a (Muslim) nation to host the Olympics. I think Istanbul rates highly because of Turkey’s history of Olympic participation,” he added. Randeree sought in his research to identify the key ingredients of previously successful Olympic bids since the 1960s, including Sydney’s, with which he melded the IOC’s technical criteria.
However, he was was skeptical about Indonesia’s prospects and insisted that regional al-Qaeda-led terrorism “remains a major obstacle”.
Randeree claimed that fierce summer temperatures would work against the Gulf cities, and even though the oil-rich states could climate-proof venues, signature Olympic events such as the marathon would still be adversely affected.