BERLIN - Reuters
Hasan Arat, Istanbul 2020 Bid Chairman and the Vice President of the Turkish National Olympic Committee, poses for photographers in front of the IOC headquarters before they submit their candidature bid for 2020 Istanbul Olympic summer games at the International Olympic Committee, IOC, headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. AP photo
Istanbul 2020 Olympic bid officials yesterday unveiled sponsorship deals worth $20 million with seven of Turkey’s leading companies as they seek to pitch the country’s growing economic clout as an asset for their candidacy.
Turkish Airlines, Koç Holding and leading mobile phone operator Turkcell are among the companies who signed up to the bid, competing with Madrid and Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
“This is the largest private sector investment in any sports bid in Turkish history,” bid leader Hasan Arat said in conference call with two international news agencies.
The list of sponsors also includes Ülker, Doğuş Group , Digiturk and Sabancı Holding.
“It reflects Turkey’s remarkable economic growth in the past five years.”
With Spain’s economy slumped in recession and the threat of a sovereign bailout still lingering and Japan struggling to stimulate growth and emerge from its own mild recession, Turkey is eager to highlight its solid growth.
Last year, Turkish National Olympic Committee (TMOK) Chairman Uğur Erdener said “Istanbul has a bigger chance than ever,” adding that after four failed efforts, the economic and political situation of the country played a huge role in the bidding process, and Turkey had a chance in that department.
The country’s finance minister Mehmet Şimşek said last week the economy grew around three percent last year, well below the heady pace of previous years.
A forecast supported by the World Bank predicted growth would rise to four percent in 2013.
“If you don’t have a strong economy you cannot handle this operation [Olympics] because there is a huge amount of investment,” said Arat.
“I think the economy and the appetite of the Turkish people is so important. This is the fifth bid of Turkey. We learned a lot but this is a new bid for a new Turkey,” Arat, a former basketball player and a sports official added.
On Jan. 8, bid leaders from Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo handed over their documents at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne.
The IOC will elect the host city in a vote in September in Buenos Aires.