Kılıç hails ‘strongest’ Olympic bid

Kılıç hails ‘strongest’ Olympic bid

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Kılıç hails ‘strongest’ Olympic bid

Youth and Sports Minister holds a photo of the İnönü Stadium, one of the venues to be used in the 2020 Olympic Games, if Istanbul wins the bid. AA photo

Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç hailed Istanbul’s 2020 Olympic Games bid as “the strongest” of all bids, upon unveiling the city’s plans yesterday at a press conference.

“Turkey is the strongest candidate,” Kılıç said as he unveiled the details of the bid, which include an Olympic Stadium at Haydarpaşa. “This city is bidding for the Olympic Games with a greater will than ever.”

Istanbul is in the race along with Tokyo, Madrid, Baku and Doha. The cities made their application last month and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will decide on May 23 which cities are approved as official candidate cities. The election of the host city will be held next year.

Turkey has made continuous attempts to host the Olympics since 1992, but Kılıç said this was its biggest chance so far: “Turkey’s strength far exceeds its previous bids,” he said.

He said Istanbul planned to organize the event with 36 venues. “There will be 25 newly-built venues, in addition to 11 standing ones. Istanbul has declared its candidacy with 36 venues.”

The highlight of Kılıç’s speech was, however, his announcement of a portable 100,000-seat stadium at Haydarpaşa, on the Anatolian coast of the city.

“We will hold the opening ceremony in a 100,000-seat portable stadium in Haydarpaşa,” Kılıç said. “While the opening ceremony is held in Asia, they will be watching Europe. The scenery will include the Bosphorus, the Maiden Tower and the historic peninsula on the European side of the city. I don’t think such a rich Olympic destination can be found elsewhere, and neither do our international interlocutors.”

Reconstruction works

Turkey’s first Olympic stadium, the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, was opened in 2002, but is often criticized for its location far from the city center and especially for its position that is open to winds. Many critics claim that the strong winds would lead to any possible records set at the stadium being deemed ineligible.

“The wind problem of the Atatürk Olympic Stadium is well-documented,” Kılıç admitted. “However, that stadium is a national treasure. You would need an enormous budget if you wanted to build it again from scratch. Now there is a technical study group working to address the [wind] issue. With a comparably small budget, we will address this issue.”

Addressing the issue of inter-city transport, Kılıç said there would not be much of a need to make a master plan in transportation: “Istanbul’s transportation issues will be completed as soon as the current rail systems and their integrated roads are completed. When that happens, Istanbul will be a complete Olympic metropolis.”

He also underlined the importance of the facilities and investments being sustainable for the country in the long-run: “There is a criterion which both we and the IOC consider important: every single penny spent on the building of these facilities should return as an asset to the national economy, to avoid dead investment. I assure you, every step we take will be an asset to our economy. There will not be a single penny of dead investment.”