First, Rubin expresses utter disbelief that a country with a population consisting of 99.8% Muslims should want to have a silhouette of a minaret or two incorporated in its Olympic logo. He notes – with an elevated heart rate no doubt – that no other Olympic logo in history has featured such religious imagery. “The Istanbul 2020 logo features not the bridge between civilizations, but rather minarets and mosques,” he bemoans. Here’s the logo to which he links:
There’s a small problem, though. That's not the Istanbul 2020 logo. Here's the real one:
Still very menacing, though, right? It was chosen by the Turkish public in an online contest among four other logos. Here they all are:
So, in a very democratic process, Turkey chose the one logo that featured Islamic imagery. For what it’s worth, that main tower featured in the chosen logo isn’t a minaret atop a mosque, but Maiden’s Tower. Even if it was a minaret, though, why does it matter? Also, despite Rubin’s assertion to the contrary, the (real) logo does represent a bridge between civilizations. Straight from the official website (my emphasis):
Two of the symbols that come to our minds when we think of Istanbul are tulip and the silhouette of Istanbul. Our aim was to create a strong bound between Istanbul of our thoughts and the logo, as we designed Istanbul silhouette within the tulip figure. The bottom part of the tulip figure represents Asia, while the top part represents Europe. Within the logo we used orange color which reflects sunset in Istanbul and Turquoise color which is identified with Turkish culture. The ground-colors stress out the modernity of Istanbul and vibrant face, with its historical, natural and cultural features.
The other myriad of reasons as to why Rubin believes Turkey shouldn’t host the games amounts to a confusion of what the criteria are for a successful bid. If you’re in need of a soporific, here’s the International Olympic Committee’s “2020 Candidature Acceptance Procedure.” The IOC wants to know about “sport and venues,” “safety and security,” “accommodation,” “government and public support,” and a host of other Olympics-related elements that are key to hosting a successful games. With countries like China (2008) and Russia (2014) serving as Olympic hosts, one wonders where Rubin ever got the idea that a country must be a human rights exemplar or without infrastructure problems to be eligible.
Michael Rubin is right on one count, though. Even if a Muslim-majority country hasn’t ever won the bid to host the Olympics, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something unfair about the IOC’s nominations process, as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insinuated recently. What is unfair is to hold Istanbul to a higher standard than is warranted by the IOC’s own guidelines.By Nathan Patin, Aslan Media Columnist