IOC panel has ‘excellent impression’ of Istanbul
The IOC came away with an ”excellent impression” Wednesday of
Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Olympics, stressing that the city’s
multi-billion-dollar infrastructure budget will be spent whether or
not Turkey gets the games.
Wrapping up a four-day tour to assess Istanbul’s fifth bid for
the Olympics, IOC Vice President Craig Reedie said his evaluation
panel was impressed by the strong government and business
Istanbul is competing against Madrid and Tokyo. The IOC panel
has already visited those two cities. The full International
Olympic Committee will choose the 2020 host city by secret ballot
on Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
After four previous failed bids, Istanbul is touting its robust
economy, plans for modern venues and games staged on two continents
to advance its 2020 campaign. Istanbul straddles both Asia and
Istanbul’s infrastructure budget of 19.2 billion is by far the
highest of the three bid cities – compared to $1.9 billion for
Madrid and $4.9 billion for Tokyo.
Turkey intends to spend on infrastructure projects to address
Istanbul’s transportation problem, including a third airport and
new rail and road links connecting the city’s European and Asian
Turkey, which will celebrate the centenary of the creation of
the republic in 2023, says the projects will go ahead even if
Istanbul loses its bid
”This is what the city estimates it will spend … at the time
of the games,” IOC executive director Gilbert Felli said. ”The
trains, the road, the railway, the development of the new city –
it’s part of what they are going to do anyway for the 2023
anniversary of the country. Even if the games are not coming
here… this will be spent.”
Felli said the visit had provided the panel with a clearer
picture of Turkey’s projects.
”Now we have a much better understanding of the tunnels, the
metro, the buses (and) how people will be moved from one place to
the other,” he said. ”We have a much better understanding of
which projects have already started.”
Reedie said the IOC witnessed the ”strong support” from the
Turkish government as well as from Turkey’s business community,
which has already pledged $20 million in sponsorship.
A public opinion poll conducted by the IOC showed Istanbul’s bid
has the support of 83 percent of city residents and 76 percent of
Turkish Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kilic said the bid has
the government’s full support and the country pledged ”to deliver
on its promises.”
He dismissed suggestions that Istanbul may present a less safe
bet than its rivals.
”Problems that have occurred in other cities will not be an
issue in Istanbul,” Kilic said. ”We gave that guarantee to the
panel and I am giving it to you now.”
The Istanbul bid committee sounded upbeat.
”My first impression is Turkey and Istanbul did very well,”
bid chairman Hasan Arat told The Associated Press. ”We have
fantastic support from our government, from our president and prime
minister. They are totally behind the bid, giving the guarantees.
That makes Istanbul very strong.”
Next up for the bid cities are presentations in May to an
Olympic conference in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Reedie’s panel will produce a report assessing the three bids
that will be submitted to IOC members ahead of a technical briefing
in July in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Arat said one of Turkey’s deputy prime minister will lead the
delegation to the July meeting, while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan will attend the vote in Buenos Aires.