July 24 - Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tonight officially confirmed that Istanbul will bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, making the announcement before a cheering crowd of more than 20,000 during a speech to open the European Youth Olympic Festival at the H. Avin Aker Stadium in Trabzon.
Erdogan was accompanied by Dr Ugur Erdener, Turkey's International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, to the Opening Ceremony to an event which has attracted more than 3,300 entries from 49 countries.
Among the dignitaries attending was Ireland's Patrick Hickey, the President of the European Olympic Committee and an influe tial member of the IOC.
A moment's slence was also held for the victims of the tragedy in Norway.
The Norwegian athletes taking part in the ceremony wore black armbands.
The British flag was carried by Tonbridge's Jemima Yeats-Brown, a judo player.
"It was a big surprise to be selected as flag bearer because there were lots of other athletes who were just as deserving," she said.
"They chose me and it is really special."
After the march of the athletes the crowd were treated to a traditional show of Turkish dancing before a spectacular firework display.
The announcement that Istanbul is to bid was made to coincide with the 88th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 that established the sovereignty of the new Republic of Turkey as the successor state of the defunct Ottoman Empire.
The city previously mounted four consecutive failed bids, for the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
But, having narrowly failed to win its campaign to host the 2016 European Football Championships, there is a feeling that this bid will be much stronger.
Istanbul will face Madrid, Rome and Tokyo and, possibly, Doha.
"These Games will directly affect Istanbul's candidancy," said Erdogan.
"Turkey is strong enough to stage this fantastic event."
More details about the bid are expected to be released in the next few days.
The IOC is due to choose the host city at its Session in Buenos Aries on September 7, 2013.
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July 2011: Exclusive - Istanbul to bid for 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, Turkish Prime Minister to announce
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