Istanbul promises ‘history in the making’ for 2020 Olympic Games

Istanbul promises ‘history in the making’ for 2020 Olympic Games

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Istanbul promises ‘history in the making’ for 2020 Olympic Games

Turkish President Abdullah Gül (C), Istanbul 2020 bid leader Hasan Arat (L), Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç (2R) and Turkish National Olympic Committee chairman Uğur Erdener (R) attend a visit in this file photo. DHA photo

Istanbul’s bidding team has stepped up its efforts to land the 2020 Olympic Games, unveiling a new “History in the Making” theme with only days left to the crucial vote.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote on the location of the world’s biggest and most expensive multi-sport event at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sept. 7. Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo are the three cities bidding for the rights to succeed the 2016 Rio de Janeiro as the next summer Games hosts.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will lead Istanbul’s delegation to the IOC as it bids to land the 2020 Games, while Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs Ali Babacan, Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç and Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş will also be part of the delegation.

“We are delighted that we will have the prime minister and other senior Turkish government officials with us in Buenos Aires,” bid chairman Hasan Arat said in a statement.

“Istanbul 2020 has enjoyed full government support from the very moment the prime minister personally launched our bid over two years ago,” he added.

Arat will also be accompanied by IOC member and President of the Turkish National Olympic Committee (TMOK) Uğur Erdener, Istanbul 2020 CEO Ali Kiremitçioğlu, Istanbul 2020 Sports Director Alp Berker, TMOK Secretary-General Neşe Gündoğan, Paralympian, archer and Istanbul 2020 Ambassador Gizem Girişmen and Çağla Büyükakçay, Turkey’s number one female tennis player.

‘Natural choice’

“‘History in the making’ was a natural choice as the theme for the last days of our campaign,” Arat said. “Istanbul 2020 offers the Olympic Movement a number of historic firsts: the first Games in Turkey; the first Games staged across two continents simultaneously; and the first Games in a nation where nearly half the population is under 25. By choosing Istanbul 2020, the IOC will be choosing to make history.”

Should Istanbul win, it will be the first country with a Muslim majority to get the Games, and the first to take place on two continents – Europe and Asia.

The IOC report on Istanbul praised the government backing, wide public support and its capability to deliver construction for the Games on time with a massive budget of $19.2 billion.

Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç has said hosting the Olympic Games in Istanbul could bring peace to a troubled region.

“When Istanbul becomes an Olympic city, it could spread a wave of peace over the whole region through sports,” said the minister, adding that the Olympics would also prompt a societal transformation in “Turkish and Muslim countries” that had never hosted the summer or winter Games.

“I have no doubt over any general voting with Istanbul involved, but impossible to guess the way the members of the committee will go. There is an evaluation that goes on outside of us, to that I can agree. Turkish and Muslim countries never had any of the summer or winter games, however, it is clear that it would provide a serious societal transformation in our world as well,” Kılıç said.

Kılıç also highlighted Istanbul’s diversity. “I know that Istanbul Müfti is praying for us to get the Olympics, and so does the Istanbul Greek Orthodox Patriarch, as well as the patriarch of the Armenian community, and the Jewish chief rabbi of Istanbul. I say that because I know it,” he said.