The International Olympic Committee (IOC) can take an historic decision by electing Istanbul to host the 2020 Olympic Games when they vote in Buenos Aires on September 7, the bid president Hasan Arat told AFP.

Arat, a former professional basketball player turned businessman, said the 100+ members of the IOC would be giving “hope, trust and peace to a region” should Istanbul win.

Istanbul are up against Madrid, bidding for the third successive time having finished third and then second for the 2012 and 2016 Games respectively, and Tokyo, the only one to host the Games previously in 1964 but finished third behind Rio de Janeiro and Madrid in the 2016 race.

Arat, who has led the bid with energy, unbridled passion and enthusiasm making it the most effective of the five bids by the Turkish city, said that hosting the Games would offer hope to the youth of the region and give them the right sort of role models.

It’s been suggested sport would present an alternative and inspiration to the youth of the region who it is often feared seek solace in either a sedentary existence, playing computer games or watching television, or become increasingly isolated sometimes drifting towards radicalisation.

However, Arat believes the Olympics – which would be the first to be hosted by a predominantly Muslim country – could prove to be a turning point in the region’s history and also bring more understanding of different cultures.

“The Olympic Movement can open the door to a new culture,” said Arat, who is engaged on a helter skelter tour of Europe ahead of the vote.

“It can bridge Olympic culture to new culture. A new bridge to historical impact, with 8000 years of history the Olympic Movement is not just giving the Olympic Games to a city – they (the IOC) would be giving hope, trust and peace to a region.”

Arat, who was The Economist magazine’s businessman of the year in 1996, said the future of the youth of the region could be changed forever by a vote for Istanbul.

“This bid is the future of our country; the future of our young people,” said Arat, who is a married father of two.

“It is very important for my country and for the region (the Middle East, the Gulf and Central Asia). The region will be affected, as 50 percent of people are under 25 years of age.

“In the region, look at our neighbours: 400 million in the age group! Now this Games is so important for their future and lives, creating role models. “The Olympic Movement can create history now. In this region there has never been an Olympic Games before.”

Arat was also adamant the Turkish Government was fully involved in the fight against doping which has taken on extra significance with a swathe of high profile Turkish athletes – including last year’s women’s 1500 metres Olympic champion Asli Cakir Alptekin – being exposed as drugs cheats.

International Association of Athletics Federations president Lamine Diack said on Monday that the Government had to get their house in order otherwise the Istanbul bid could be affected.

“I respect his (Diack) opinion, but I would say that Turkey is fighting very strongly against doping. We are working with the government,” said Arat.

“There is a zero tolerance policy towards it being led by our IOC member Ugur Erdemer, who is working very hard. The tests themselves are working which means people can’t hide and we are cleaning up the sports. Yes it happened (the doping) but it has to stop.

“There are two strands to the battle, testing and then the education of coaches and the athletes family. We are also establishing a special education programme.”

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan assured International Olympic Committee (IOC) members that Istanbul can deliver the ideal conditions to host the 2020 Games.

Speaking at a closed dinner given to the IOC Evaluation Commission on the night of March 26, Erdoğan said Istanbul was capable of hosting a remarkable Games.

“You should have no doubts that we will make the necessary conditions in the most ideal, the most perfect way to host the Olympic Games,” Erdoğan said. “The 2020 Istanbul Olympics will be organized in a stronger, more developed and more prosperous Turkey, right ahead of the 2023 targets.”

The prime minister emphasized that the Turkish state had set “major yet reachable targets” for 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Republic. He also described Istanbul as “the city of peace,” saying that hosting the Games in the city would “inspire humanity.”

The dinner came the night before the end of the Evaluation Commission’s four-day visit. The IOC group also visited Tokyo and Madrid earlier this month.

Erdoğan said he could not be neutral about Istanbul, as it is not only the city he was born and raised in but also the one he ran as mayor for one term during the 1990s.

“Istanbul is a generous city,” he added. “It shares its beauty, its richness, its values with everybody.”
The IOC will officially decide the host of the 2020 Games in Buenos Aires in September.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegation started its four-day visit in Istanbul on Saturday after paying visits to other candidate cities Tokyo and Madrid.

The 15-member delegation were given a star’s welcome as they arrived in the candidate city where they will assess Istanbul’s bid to host 2020 Olympic Games, observe the preparations and meet Turkish governmental officials.

The delegation was welcomed with chants of “We are ready” and flags supporting Istanbul’s bid.

The Turkish Olympic Committee, as well as the Istanbul municipality, appeared determined to make a positive first impression as an energized crowd of young people eagerly awaited the IOC members’ arrival at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.

The group will make visits to the sports facilities in Istanbul, including the 76,000-seat Ataturk Olympic Stadium, and the 52,000-seat Seyrantepe Stadium.

Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas and Istanbul 2020 Bid Committee Chairman Hasan Arat held a reception for media on Saturday evening, highlighting advantages of Istanbul in its bid.

The two officials voiced its slogans: one city, one game and two continents.

The city of nearly 15 million, which straddles Europe and Asia, is touting its unique geographical location to set it apart from rival bidders Tokyo and Madrid.

The Istanbul 2020 Bid Committee officially launched its new free app Bridge for IOC visit on Saturday. The Bridge is the first app of its kind to be used by any Olympic bid city and provides users with access to information from the Istanbul 2020 Bid and the Evaluation Commission on their smartphone and tablet devices.

On Sunday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul is expected to address the IOC members in a video conference while Sports Minister Suat Kilic will hold a meeting with the committee.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will also host the committee for a dinner at the historic Esma Sultan Mansion along the Bosphorus on March 26.

On the eve of the four-day visit by the IOC evaluation commission,the Istanbul bid committee for the 2020 Olympics has reiterated Turkey’s tough stance against doping.

The committee said that it’s “ready to play its part to stamp it out” and that any athlete who takes drugs will face “the full extent of Turkey’s strict anti-doping legislation.”

Local Radikal newspaper said on Saturday that Turkish 1,500-meter Olympic champion Asli Cakir Alptkin is facing a doping ban after irregularities were reportedly detected by a blood-profiling program.

Istanbul is competing against Tokyo and Madrid to host the games. The full International Olympic Committee will select the host city on Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Istanbul is preparing to host the two-day 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit next Thursday and Friday. According to a statement from the president's...


Istanbul is preparing to host the two-day 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit next Thursday and Friday. According to a statement from the president's...