Cities put in final words ahead of 2020 selection

Cities put in final words ahead of 2020 selection

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Cities put in final words ahead of 2020 selection

AA Photo

The candidates bidding to land the 2020 Olympics played their final hands in Lausanne, making their final presentations today to the International Olympics Committee (IOC).

A Turkish delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç attended the meeting to present Istanbul’s 2020 Olympic bid, two months before the IOC awards the Games to one of Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul on Sept. 7.

The presentation was made to the IOC in the Swiss city to complete Istanbul’s candidacy process and gave details about the preparations and qualifications the city possesses to host the 2020 Games. Committees from each of the candidate cities pitched their respective qualities to the IOC, with Istanbul bidding to host the Games for the fifth time.

Madrid has applied three successive times, losing out to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 edition, according to Agence France-Presse. Tokyo is the only candidate among the three that has hosted the Games before.

Though Babacan refrained from giving a detailed account of the meeting, he said the presentation, as well as the city, was “well-prepared to host the games.”

Babacan was accompanied by 2020 Candidacy Committee President Hasan Arat, Istanbul 2020 CEO Ali Kiremitçioğlu, 2020 Sports Director Alp Berker and Paralympic archer and Istanbul 2020 ambassador Gizem Girişmen to the meeting at the Beaulie Conference Hall, and held a press conference after the meeting was adjourned.

“There was a variety of subjects discussed at the event, but my observation was that the IOC members were really happy with our presentation,” Babacan said.

Babacan also thanked IOC President Jacques Rogge and other IOC members before expressing his joy at having the chance to present Istanbul’s vision to the committee, as well as debating the common future of the 2020 Olympics.

Babacan also said the time was “right” for Turkey, adding that the preparations for the Mediterranean Games took Turkey just 18 months to complete.

Foreign journalists ask about Gezi Park

Foreign journalists at the meeting, however, insisted on directing questions regarding the ongoing Gezi Park movement to Babacan, asking the deputy prime minister whether or not Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s anti-social media movement would have any impact on the Olympics, which is strongly linked to social media campaigns.

“There are 400 television channels in Turkey, 110 radio stations and thousands of newspapers. Turkey is one of the countries that use social media the most. Our sports minister has 500,000 followers, our prime minister has 3,000,000. Certain illegal groups misused social media during events; that’s why we have to make sure that social media is not being used for illegal aims,” Babacan said, according to daily Hürriyet.

Kılıç said the Turkish delegations, which also included technical staff and athletes, answered questions asked by the IOC members, while also explaining the national sports plan that was included in the bid to host the Olympics.

“All services, including transportation, security, accommodation, medical and ticketing were delivered according to the plan. This was an important test of our ability to deliver,” Kılıç told the committee, according to a press statement.