How will 2020 Olympics in Istanbul affect the economy?
Nowadays, you may see the blue and yellow-colored Istanbul 2020 Olympics candidate city pin on the collars of many people you meet in Istanbul.
I was quite surprised to see this collar pin on the waiter at the restaurant where I ate dinner last night.
Head of the Istanbul 2020 Candidacy Committee Chairman Hasan Arat pinned my badge two months ago during the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Hasan Arat, who arrived in Davos with a suitcase full of Istanbul 2020 badges, was able to pin them on Turkish businesspeople participating in the WEF as well as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and even Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Alongside Boris Johnson, former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone who was in Istanbul upon the invitation of the Association of Young Tourism Leaders, also had the Istanbul Candidate City 2020 pin on his collar.
Livingstone is the mayor who won London the Olympics. Consequently, his support for Istanbul is important, as well as his sharing of his experiences.
As you know, the Istanbul visit of the International Olympic Committee Evaluation Commission last week has boosted hopes.
It is being said that Istanbul has a good chance against Tokyo and Madrid.
Hasan Arat who is also a member of the Executive Committee of Capital Partners said the visit went extremely well while Akbank General Manager Hakan Binbaşgil said that if Istanbul hosts the Olympic Games, it would be a huge opportunity for the Istanbul Finance Center.
Nobody can deny the contribution of the Olympic Games to the local economy. However, there is another side to the medallion.
Most of the time, the cost of the Olympic Games ends up being much higher than the estimated figure. For example, the 2004 Athens Olympic Games were estimated to cost $6 billion. Athens, which has been suffering in the grip of economic crisis for years, spent $14.8 billion.
Those who claim that the money spent on the Olympics is one of the factors that led Greece into the crisis are not totally wrong.
Besides, because Athenians do not favor sports such as kayak and baseball, money spent to build facilities for these sports is considered money blown away.
Similarly, London, which hosted the 2012 Summer Olympics, initially announced it would spend $4 billion. At the end, the money spent reached $18 billion.
Beijing, which spent $43 billion on the 2008 Olympics, could not have estimated that it would spend that much.
Istanbul’s budget is much higher than Madrid and Tokyo’s.
Spain, which has the highest rate of unemployment in Europe, could only reserve $1.9 billion for 2020 Olympics.
Japan’s announced budget is $4.9 billion.
Now, we come to Istanbul.
The budget, a large portion of which will be financed by leading private sector companies such as Koç, Sabancı and Doğuş, has been announced as $19.2 billion.
The latest figure the Head of the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ), Ahmet Haluk Karabel, gave was $25 billion.
Looking at other examples, it seems inevitable that Istanbul will exceed this figure.
What will happen then? Who will pay for the difference?
According to figures announced yesterday, Turkey’s growth in 2012 was only 2.2 percent. Industry has grown 0 percent in the last quarter.
These kinds of “ugly signs” coming from the economy cast a shadow over the rosy picture of the 2020 Olympics, naturally.
Another situation is in question for Istanbul: Our beloved city is going through a major urban transformation and consequently experts claim that projects prepared for the Olympics would lead to chaos.
Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing Miloon Kothari, who visited Istanbul and Ankara to write a report on “urban transformation,” said it would be a “disaster” for Istanbul, which is undergoing faster change than China, to win the Olympics.
Should we be sad or happy if Istanbul wins the Olympics? I could not decide.