Istanbul 2020 bid leader in charm offensive ahead of IOC’s crucial voting
Istanbul 2020 Bid Chairman Hasan Arat (Above L) is flanked by young athletes during a press conference to promote Istanbul for 2020 Olympic games on Sept. 5. AFP photoIstanbul’s Olympic bid team put the accent on Turkey’s young population during one of its final presentations to land the 2020 Games in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, where International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegates will choose the host city of the Summer Games on Sept. 7.
Flanked by young athletes, Istanbul 2020 bid Chairman Hasan Arat said the Summer Games “will create a generation of Olympic and Paralympic heroes for [Turkey’s] youth to follow.”
“This is such a big opportunity for the region, for the Olympic Movement and for the youth of the region,” Arat said during his presentation, emphasizing that half of the Turkish population was under 25.
The bidding team has stepped up efforts in its latest charm offensive which focuses on the symbolism of organizing the first Games staged across two continents and in a country with a Muslim majority.
Turkey is trying to improve a poor image due to recent doping scandals involving prominent Turkish athletes and a brutal police crackdown on the nationwide Gezi protests, which were mostly led by youth.
But the other two candidates – Tokyo and Madrid – are also facing an uphill battle due to the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan and the economic crisis in Spain.
The Turkish delegation also had to respond to concerns raised by recent developments in neighboring Syria and the possibility of a military operation in the Arab republic.
“However, the Games will be held in seven years’ time, and I believe that the members will look ahead and not just at what is happening today,” Arat said.
“I think that this is a matter for the political leaders to discuss and make decisions at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia," he added.