Istanbul to bid for 2020 Olympics

BY foxsports • November 11, 2009

After four unsuccessful Olympic bids, Istanbul will enter the race to host the 2020 Games. Turkish government sports official Mehmet Atalay said Tuesday the country has decided to launch another Olympic bid and believes the city's chances are much stronger this time. Istanbul mounted failed attempts for the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. It sat out the race for the 2016 Games, which were awarded last month to Rio de Janeiro. "Istanbul has changed a lot," Atalay said. "We feel much more confident to be in a race with other cities." Cities in Japan and Italy have expressed interest in the 2020 Games, and Dubai and Qatar are also considering bids. South Africa and other African countries could also enter candidates. Bid submissions to the International Olympic Committee are due in 2011. The IOC will select the 2020 host city in 2013. Atalay, the head of Turkey's Youth and Sports Directorate, said he believed the Olympics will return to Europe in 2020 after going to South America for the first time in 2016. "We strongly believe that we are going to have the best bid for 2020," he told reporters at the Sports Event Management Conference in London. "Turkey is a big country and it has much potential for hosting such events. We have the history. We have the culture. We are the bridge between Europe and Asia."' Atalay said the bid had the full backing of President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and that 85 percent of the country's population support the effort. Atalay said Turkey has gained valuable sports experience by hosting the 2005 Champions League final and other events. It will stage the 2010 World Basketball Championships, 2011 Winter University Games and 2012 world indoor athletics championships. "Infrastructure-wise, Istanbul has improved a lot," he said. "Transpiration has improved. Weather pollution is almost finished. It's one of the most secure cities in Europe. We are getting experience at organizing major events." Atalay said Istanbul could take an example from Rio, which bid several times before getting the Olympics. "We will keep on until we win," he said. Tokyo - which finished third in the 2016 race - is considering trying again for 2020. Hiroshima and Nagasaki have also announced plans for a joint bid from Japan. Several cities in Italy, including Rome and Venice, have expressed interest in bidding. Qatar officials confirmed Tuesday they are preparing to submit a bid from Doha for 2020, although they are currently focusing on their campaign for the 2022 World Cup. Doha tried for the 2016 Games, but failed to make the list of finalists, mainly because it proposed holding the games outside of the usual July-August period due to the severe heat in Qatar in the summer. With South Africa hosting next year's World Cup, organizing committee chief Danny Jordaan says a successful tournament could foreshadow an African Olympics in 2020. South African cities Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban are potential candidates. Egypt and Nigeria could also consider bidding.

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