Istanbul 2020 bid leaves ‘excellent impression’

Istanbul 2020 bid leaves ‘excellent impression’

ISTANBUL - Reuters
Istanbul 2020 bid leaves ‘excellent impression’

Sir Craig Reedie speaks at a press conference in Istanbul. AA photo

Istanbul’s presentation of its bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games left an “excellent impression” the head of the evaluation commission said on March 27.

Turkey’s largest city, which is competing with Tokyo and Madrid for the 2020 Games, presented its candidacy to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) commission, headed by IOC vice president Craig Reedie, this week.

Turkish officials highlight the bid as offering the first opportunity for a secular Muslim democracy to host the Games, which would also be the first staged on two continents.

“These [visits] have been extremely well organised and we have an excellent impression of the skills and enthusiasm of the bid committee,” Reedie told a news conference.

Keen to avoid indicating a preference for any of the three candidate cities, he added: “Excellent impression in my world is exactly the same as ‘hugely impressed’ or ‘greatly impressed’,” referring to his comments about Tokyo and Madrid.

Reedie also told reporters just before the delegation's departure that Istanbul showed a lot of will to organize the Olympic Games. "It is very important for us to be in this very precious and historical city. The IOC evaluation commission members all know the philosophy and depth of [Istanbul]," he said, adding that the Bosphorus, connecting two continents, was a very special place.

Istanbul’s projected infrastructure budget of $19.2 billion is vastly higher than the figures touted for Tokyo and Madrid, but the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli said most of this sum was not tied to the Games.

“Even if the Games are not coming here, most of this budget will be spent,” Felli said. “The development of the new city of Istanbul, the new constructions, is part of what they are going to do anyway.”

Technical reports

Each city delivered their candidature files to the IOC in January and on-site inspections by an evaluation commission were held in Tokyo and Madrid earlier this month. Technical assessments will be published at the beginning of July.

Reedie said the commission was impressed by the strong government and business community support for the Istanbul bid.

Turkey is the fastest-growing economy in Europe and raised the country’s profile as a regional power in the Middle East.

The country has also enhanced its sporting profile over the last decade, with increased sporting success and growing experience in hosting international events.

However, Istanbul’s growing population, currently around 14 million, has raised questions about the city’s ability to handle the transport challenges presented by the Games.

Istanbul is a major tourist destination, used to handling large numbers of visitors. In 2012, the total number of foreign visitors to Turkey rose 1.04 percent to 31.8 million people, according to official statistics.