Istanbul hopeful for Olympics after inspection

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Just as was the case following inspections of the city’s bid rivals Tokyo and Madrid, the IOC’s evaluation committee president Sir Craig Reedie spoke of the candidature in glowing terms, as the exercise’s diplomacy requires.

“This has been extremely well organised and we have an excellent impression of the skills and enthusiasm of the bid committee,” said Reedie.

“Excellent impression in my words is exactly the same as hugely impressed or greatly impressed,” he clarified, referring to previous compliments given to the other cities.

“We have seen the enthusiasm for the Games that exists here in Istanbul.”

Reedie also pointed to the willingness of the current Turkish regime to back the Games.

“We have witnessed a strong support which the bid enjoys from the government and this has been highlighted with the presence of president (Abdullah) Gul and many ministers throughout our visit,” he added.

The Islamist government has made organising the Olympics one of its priorities as Turkey tries to promote itself as a regional powerhouse.

Reedie and the IOC inspectors were welcomed on Sunday by Gul before dining Tuesday with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former Mayor of Istanbul.

Throughout the week Turkey has been emphasising the country’s strong domestic growth, something which is in stark contrast to the difficulties in Japan or the economic crisis in Spain.

Consequently, the Istanbul bid’s budget of more than $19 million (14.87 million euros) far outweighs those of its bid rivals.

However, the IOC’s executive director for the Olympic Games Gilbert Felli warned that that budget wasn’t necessarily exclusive to the Games.

“Even if the Olympic Games are not coming here, most of this budget will be spent,” he said.

“Only a few million out of it will not be spent, all the rest will be spent. We don’t believe this is due only to the Olympic Games.”

Even so, Turkey’s Minister for Sports Suat Kilic said the inspectors had assured him they were confident in the city’s bid.

“I can happily tell you that the IOC team confirmed that Istanbul is ready to receive the Games,” he said.

Candidate cities will brief IOC Members in Lausanne from July 3-4 before the Olympic family makes its decision at the 125th IOC session on September 7 in Buenos Aires.

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