Istanbul has ‘a bigger chance than ever’ in Olympic bidding

Istanbul has ‘a bigger chance than ever’ in Olympic bidding

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Istanbul has ‘a bigger chance than ever’ in Olympic bidding

Turkish National Olympic Committee (TMOK) Chairman Uğur Erdener (C) speaks to Hürriyet Daily News editor-in-chief Murat Yetkin (R) and sports editor Çetin Cem Yılmaz, saying Istanbul has a strong chance to win over Tokyo and Madrid in the race to host the 2020 Olympic Games. Istanbul has made four failed attempts since the 2000 Games. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

Turkish National Olympic Committee (TMOK) Chairman Uğur Erdener believes that Istanbul has “a bigger chance than ever” for the 2020 Games, but underlined the importance of political support to the bidding team.

In an interview with the Hürriyet Daily News, Erdener said that after four failed efforts, Istanbul was putting in its strongest effort ever to host the Olympic Games.

Earlier this month, Istanbul made it onto the shortlist, along with Tokyo and Madrid, while Doha and Baku had been left out of the race to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

The race has a long way to go before the host city is decided on Sept. 7, 2013, but Erdener believes Istanbul has significant strengths against its solid rivals.

“Istanbul has a bigger chance than ever,” Erdener said. “After four previous efforts [2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012] failed in the first stage, this is the first time that we made it to the shortlist. We have a solid project.”

Erdener added that the economic and political situation of the country played a huge role in the bidding process, and Turkey had a chance in that department. “Political and economic consistency is key in that area, as well as having a charismatic leader,” Erdener added.

As strong as Istanbul’s 2020 bid is, the Turkish Football Federation’s 2020 European Football Championship bid is believed to be an obstacle to the Olympic race. Both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) leader Jacques Rogge and Michel Platini, the head of European football’s governing body, UEFA, made remarks warning against one country hosting two major sports events in the same year.

Winning the Olympic bid would dramatically change Istanbul and would leave a lasting legacy to the city, the TMOK Chairman explained.

“Just look at Athens before and after 2004, or Barcelona before and after 1992, or Beijing, to see how hosting the Olympics can change cities,” Erdener said. “Hosting the Games provides important changes to the city, from transportation to environmental development or accommodation – results go far beyond the sports.”

“The Olympic Games create a huge flux of people to the country: 6,000 athletes, 4,000 technical staff members and 20,000 journalists cover the event and 70,000 volunteers are needed. There is also the number of people coming to watch the Games,” Erdener said. “We are told that Istanbul will have a capacity of 95,000 hotel beds in Istanbul by 2020.”

Above all the strengths Istanbul has in the Olympic bidding race, popular support for hosting the Games is priceless, Erdener explained. According to research conducted by TMOK, more than 80 percent of Turkish people want to have 2020 Olympics in Istanbul, which is believed to be a greater proportion than its rivals.

After having four efforts turned down in the first step, Istanbul has come a long way to have made it onto the shortlist. It still has further to go before the winner of the bid is announced in Buenos Aires next year. But for the TMOK chairman, there are reasons to be optimistic.