Istanbul hopeful, Rome out of the Olympic race
ISTANBUL / LAUSANNE
A marble statue representing a discus thrower is seen in Rome.A very hopeful Turkish National Olympic Committee submitted Istanbul’s 2020 Olympic bid file to the International Olympic Committee yesterday, a day after Italy’s Rome pulled out of the race.
Istanbul joined Tokyo, Japan; Doha, Qatar; Madrid, Spain; and Baku, Azerbaijan as the candidates.
Istanbul is bidding for a fifth time after failed attempts for the Olympics in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Senior bid official Hasan Arat highlighted that Istanbul had several advantages.
“It will be a long, hard race,” Arat told Hürriyet Daily News in a telephone interview yesterday. “But we are preparing very well. It is very different from our past candidacies.”
Arat said the submission letter comprised the country’s detailed plan for the bid, including the already prepared facilities and transportation and accommodation plans.
Turkey’s submission comes on the final day for application files and guarantee letters to be submitted to the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC executive board in Quebec City will decide which cities are approved as official candidate cities in May.
A day before the deadline, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti withdrew Rome as a candidate to host the 2020 Olympic Games, describing a planned bid as “irresponsible” given economic problems.
“After a difficult evaluation we’ve arrived at the unanimous conclusion that the government believes it would not be responsible in the current conditions in Italy to take on these guarantees,” said Monti in a press conference.
“We don’t feel capable of taking on a financial commitment that could burden Italian finances over the coming years. In another moment of history we could have carried the risk, but not now.”
Arat refused to comment on whether Rome’s withdrawal boosted Istanbul’s chances.
“It is not right and ethical for us to talk about other candidates right now,” Arat said.
While Spain is also embroiled in a severe financial crisis, Alejandro Blanco, the head of their National Olympic Committee, told AFP they would not be following in Rome’s wake.
“The withdrawal of Rome changes nothing for our candidacy,” said Blanco by phone.
“It is not the time to be talking about that.” Madrid, which came second to Rio de Janeiro for the right to host the 2016 games, has at least 80 percent of the required infrastructure already built or nearly finished after their two losing bids for the 2012 and 2016 games.
Mario Pescante, the president of the Promotion Committee for Rome 2020, admitted this was a bitter pill to swallow.
“We’ve lost a great opportunity but we can only accept the government’s decision. There’s a lot of bitterness,” he said.
“The government’s decision was well thought out and was due exclusively to economic motives. Our project for Rome 2020 was very serious but the government was immovable on the accounts. It’s a shame because it was a unique opportunity not least to say to the young that we have big ambitions.”