IOC chief Rogge urges Turkey to pick either Olympics or Euros

IOC chief Rogge urges Turkey to pick either Olympics or Euros

IOC chief Rogge urges Turkey to pick either Olympics or Euros

Turkey’s bid for hosting the Olympic Games faces growing problems. AP photo

Turkey can pursue only one of the bids it has placed for two major upcoming sporting events, the Olympic Games and the European Football Championships, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said.

In an interview with AFP, President of the IOC Jacques Rogge said that IOC rules state a Games host country cannot hold another major sporting event in the same year.

If Istanbul is awarded the 2020 Olympic Games, Turkey will have to withdraw its bid to host the European football championships that same year.

“Initially they will be judged on their technical capacity on May 23 in Quebec City,” said the 70-year-old Belgian, referring to the IOC members’ vote on selecting the short-list for the 2020 Games. “In other words, on their potential to host the Games,” he said.

“On September 7 next year in Buenos Aires, if Istanbul is elected we will respectfully ask them not to host the European championships. Ultimately, it will be for the government [in Ankara] to make their mind up, but I would say the election would be conditional on not organizing another competition,” said Rogge.

Rogge’s statements echoed the earlier sentiments of Michel Platini. The president of European football’s governing body, UEFA, was skeptical about Turkey, who lost to France in the 2016 bidding, being a candidate for two major sports events in the same year.

“Turkey had a strong bid in 2016 and I think they will be even stronger in 2020,” Platini said during the UEFA Congress held in Istanbul in March. “Now the only small issue I have in respect to this is that in 2020 Istanbul is also a candidate for the Olympics. If they have the Olympics and the Euros it will maybe be a bit of a handful,” Platini said.

Platini warning

Platini said Istanbul’s bid for the European football championships might be stronger if the country did not also have an active bid for the Olympic Games. “If Istanbul does not get the Olympic Games, the Turkish bid will be a stronger bid, one that I will support and one that I will vote for. Last time [for 2016] I did not vote, but this time I will vote, because I believe Turkey should host a European Championship,” Platini said.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) shrugged off Platini’s warning and announced itself as a candidate for the European Football Championships last month.

As the first country to have an Olympic Law, guaranteeing the full cost of staging the Games, the Turkey is known to have long had an ambition to host the Games. According to the Turkish Olympic law, there will be tripartite cooperation between the state, the municipality and the NOC, which makes the 2008 bid immune to government changes.

After placing Turkey’s fifth bid for the Games earlier this year, the Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç called it “Turkey’s strongest ever bid.”

Istanbul was considered a leading candidate to host the Games after several failed bids, but was dealt a huge blow when Turkey unexpectedly declared its candidacy for Euro 2020. Until then, bid organizers had understood that the government’s priority was the hosting of the Games.

However, Turkey is the only nation to have formally registered its interest in hosting Euro 2020 with UEFA, as the May 15 deadline to announce intentions creeps closer.

Rogge insisted, however, that the apparent conflict should not ordinarily affect Istanbul’s ability to make the Olympics short-list.

Istanbul is competing against Tokyo, Madrid, Doha and Baku for the 2020 Games.

Additional reporting from AFP was used in this report.