January 7 - Hasan Arat, the leader of Istanbul's campaign to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, hailed "New Turkey, New Bid" as the city delivered its Candidature file to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) here today.
And he promised a "surprise" when Istanbul officially releases the full details of its bid tomorrow, including plans for the biggest Opening Ceremony in the history of the Olympics with a crowd of more than half-a-million along the banks of The Bosphorus in both Europe and Asia.
Proposals to hold about a third of the events on the Asian side of the city will also be revealed, which Arat hopes will give them the edge over rivals Madrid and Tokyo when the IOC chooses the host city at its 125th Session in Buenos Aires on September 7.
This is Istanbul's fifth bid to host the Olympics but the first which has been taken seriously and they have delivered a master plan "that is the full package", according to Arat.
"This milestone is the latest step in our 20-year journey to win the honour of hosting the Games," he added.
"We have been learning and evolving every step of the way, and today we are submitting a brand new and dramatically enhanced Games concept.
"Istanbul 2020 has a technically outstanding master plan and delivery structure, and we would grab the world's attention with a breathtaking setting and a series of groundbreaking firsts, such as being the first ever Games held in two continents simultaneously.
"Now is the time for Istanbul; now we are ready to deliver."
Istanbul's delegation included the city's Mayor, Kadir Topbaş, who made it here despite a heavy snowstorm in Turkey's financial capital this morning.
It underlined the political support for the campaign, which is no longer being undermined by talk of a proposed bid from Turkey for the 2020 European football championships following the launch of the plan by UEFA President Michel Platini to spread the event across the continent.
"Today is a historic moment for Istanbul and the Turkish nation," said Topbaş.
"Istanbul 2020 is the first sports bid in Turkish history to have been officially launched by the Prime Minister, and it has been identified as a strategic national priority.
"As such, this bid has the unequivocal backing of every level of Government."
Istanbul hosted several major events last year, including the World Indoor Athletics Championships and the World Short Course Swimming Championships, and the Olympics and Paralympics would be the centrepiece of the build-up to the centenrary of the founding of Turkey in 2023.
"The Games would enhance Istanbul's growing global status as a place to visit, do business and, increasingly, stage world-class sport," said Topbaş.
"We are all aligned behind our shared vision: hosting the Games for the first time would be the defining achievement in nearly 100 years of the Republic of Turkey."
Arat and Topbaş were joined by Uğur Erdener, President of both the National Olympic Committee of Turkey (NOCT) and World Archery; Yavuz Çelik, Deputy Undersecretary of the Minister of Youth and Sports; and Mehmet Baykan, general director of sports for Istanbul 2020.
"Istanbul 2020 has devoted a lot of time to creating a concept that will give athletes the best possible conditions for personal best performances," said Erdener.
"As an International Federation President myself, I know how important it is to put athletes' needs at the heart of everything.
"Thankfully, we have also been able to access a strong pool of expertise within Turkey as world sport's top property-owners continue to turn to us.
"Turkey knows what it takes to stage elite sport to the highest international standards."
Contact the writer of this story at email@example.com
January 2013: Cities bidding for 2020 preparing to hand in Candidature files