January 12 - Turkey's Minister of Sport Suat Kılıç (pictured) has backed a high-level delegation travelling here to promote Istanbul's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics as the city also announced a series of key international appointments.
Istanbul are considered the favourites among many Olympic experts but have been relatively low-key since the high-profile launch of the bid by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last August.
This trip, timed to coincide with the first-ever Winter Youth Olympic Games, which is due to open here tomorrow, is designed to help them regain their momentum ahead of the delivery of the city's Applicant Files to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne next month.
"The Prime Minister of Turkey Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made the Olympic Games a personal priority and a national imperative," said Kılıç.
"Turkey's bid to bring the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to Istanbul is a mission that has the full support of the Government; it is a mission that should also be embraced by all political parties and indeed by the entire nation."
Istanbul has yet to officially appoint a bid leader but, perhaps significantly, this delegation includes Hasan Arat, a former top-level basketball player who is now the vice-president of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey (NOTC) and is the Government's choice to lead the campaign when they announce the full team.
Arat (pictured), 52, is the chairman of Capital Partners, one of Turkey's most successful development companies, and this is his second Olympic trip in recent months having attended the European Olympic Committees annual meeting in Sochi in November.
He will be accompanied by Professor Ugur Erdener, the President of the World Archery Federation and a member of the IOC.
This is Istanbul's fifth campaign to win the Olympics having failed in bids for the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games.
Their best effort was at the IOC Session in Moscow in 2001 when bidding for 2008 they reached the second round after polling more votes than Paris.
But they were easily beaten in the second round - getting only nine votes - as the Games were awarded to Beijing.
For 2004 and 2012 they failed to even make the shortlist.
But a sign that they are putting more resources into this bid is that they have already appointed a high level team of advisors and consultants, led by John Tibbs Associates (JTA), who worked on Sochi's successful campaign to host the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Working alongside JTA will be Craig McLatchey's Event Knowledge Services (EKS).
McLatchey has more than 20 years experience in Olympic Games, having been part of the senior leadership team for the Sydney 2000 and provided strategic support services for Athens 2004, Turin 2006, Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010 and Rio 2016.
Also appointed is FiveCurrents, a creative and production firm run by Scott Givens, which has worked on ten Olympics, including London 2012 and Rio 2016.
"After a decade of growth, and progress, and lessons learned, the time is now right for Istanbul 2020," said Arat.
"Turkey is better placed than ever before to offer the IOC the chance to cross a new frontier.
"Istanbul 2020 can connect the Olympic Movement to a new territory with unique cultural and economic potential where Asia and Europe meet.
"Turkey is in a period of remarkable economic, social and sporting development. Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games is a critical opportunity for us to accelerate and sustain that development.
"Working with the finest Turkish and international technical and Olympic experts, our focus over the last few months has been on preparing a really exciting and innovative concept that works for Istanbul and Turkey but one that also meets the needs and highest standards of the Olympic Movement in the 21st Century.
"This will be reflected in our Applicant City file which we are on track to submit to the IOC on 15 February."
Erdener is far more optimistic about this bid than previous ones.
"I have been proud to represent Turkey in the Olympic Movement for many years and I am convinced that this will be the most serious and credible bid Turkey has ever produced," he said.
Erdener is confident that Istanbul's story will resonate more with his IOC colleagues than rivals Baku, Doha, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo.
"With the wholehearted commitment from the Government and the compelling concept that the bid committee is developing, I believe we have a really powerful story to share with the Olympic family," he said.
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