QUEBEC - AFP/Reuters
Turkey’s Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç (L) and the head of the National Olympic Committee (TMOK) Togay Bayatlı attend a press conference in this file photo. Istanbul is one of the strongest candidates in the race to host the 2020 Olympics. AA photo
A prominent member of the Turkish bidding team said yesterday that the country’s top priority is the Olympics as the International Olympic Committee gathered in Quebec to announce the group of finalists.
Hasan Arat, a member of the Turkish bidding team, said that Turkey has no intentions to back down in its bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, while the country is also in the race for the 2020 European Football Championship.
The IOC does not allow under its rules two major sporting events to be hosted by the same host in the same year and Turkey was given warnings from both IOC leader Jacques Rogge and Michel Platini, the leader of UEFA, European football’s governing body, on not running for both events.
“For Turkey, hosting the Games has always been the ultimate prize,” said Arat.
“Every level of government is right behind us, from the Prime Minister, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right through to the municipal authorities. We have the full support of the sports and business communities, and we have 87% public support the people of Turkey want the Games.
“Turkey has never been more serious about hosting the Games, and we have never been more ready to host the Games.”
“It is an exciting time for our country. We have had a decade of remarkable economic and social development, and now we are better placed than ever to realize our Olympic dream. The time is right for Istanbul. 2020 in this campaign: we are in it to win it.”
Istanbul is up against Tokyo, the only candidate to have previously hosted the Games, Madrid, who finished second to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Games, Baku, who failed to make the short list last time, and Doha, who like Baku
also fell at the first hurdle.
The IOC was to announce its decision late yesterday in Quebec time.
The 15-member executive board, headed by Rogge, was to choose the finalists after examining a technical evaluation report compiled by a panel of Olympic experts.
IOC Vice President Thomas Bach called it “the most difficult decision we have ever had to take with regard to a shortlist.”