Istanbul Looks to Repeat Rio's Olympics Success

Image Spellbinding but worrisome from a logistical standpoint, dark horse Istanbul's bid to host the 2020 Olympics eerily echoes Rio de Janeiro's footing when it came from behind to win the right to host the 2016 Games. Four years ago, Rio, in a major upset, became the first nation in South America to secure the Games, despite a technical score well below rivals Tokyo and Chicago going into the final vote.

Istanbul ranked near the bottom in the International Olympic Committee's first cut announced Wednesday, which assessed a city's ability to host a major sporting event, ranking transportation, sports venues and other infrastructure.
Turkey's largest city with a population of 13.5 million has 15 months to impress the IOC before a final vote on September 7, 2013 at Buenos Aires.
Businessman Hassan Arat, who heads Istanbul's fifth Olympic bid team in two decades is optimistic. "Turkey wants the Games, and we are better placed than ever to realize our dream," he said after the first cut.
Tokyo, with the highest technical score, has Istanbul in its sights.
On Thursday, a Tokyo bid executive said its "biggest rival" in the bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics was now Istanbul, after both cities and Madrid advanced to the final vote.

With fellow Asian candidate Qatar's Doha failing alongside Azerbaijan's Baku to make the shortlist, Tokyo can more easily muster support from Asian members of the IOC, said Tomiaki Fukuda, vice president of the Japanese Olympic Committee.

Turkey, like Brazil, is one of the world's fastest-growing economies with growth at 8.5 percent last year, and a young population (nearly half is under the age of 25).

It aims to use the Games to reshape, modernize and enrich its metropolis, much in need of an improved transportation system, outlines the IOC Working Group in a report.

Whereas Rio de Janeiro offered a unique experience punctuated by sugar loafs, the Copacabana -- one of the world's most famous beaches -- and the Corcovado Mountain in the centre of the city, Istanbul has the legendary Bosporus strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia.
Finally, Istanbul, like Rio, boasts tremendous support from its sports-fanatical populace and a government that in 1992 when the city first bid for the right to host the Games passed a law making this goal a national priority.
That focus today has softened. Istanbul is also bidding to host the 2020 European Football Championship and many believe that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former footballer, favors hosting the UEFA competition over the Olympics.

But Arat insisted: "Our priority is the Olympics."

A decision on the Olympic host city will come before the UEFA decision, in September 2013 versus early 2014, respectively. So even if it fails in its Olympic efforts, Turkey could look forward to a consolation prize if it goes on to win the UEFA competition.

Either way, like Brazil which welcomed the World Cup two years after the Olympics, Turkey is said to be ready for anything. (
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07