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.