Exclusive: Turkish Prime Minister "200 per cent" behind Istanbul 2020, claims bid leader
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
August 14 - Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan backs Istanbul's campaign to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics "200 per cent", the leader of the bid has claimed.
Hasan Arat, who is spearheading Istanbul's campaign, claimed that Erdogan's visit to the start of the Olympics in London and for a meeting with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge had strengthened his determination to see the Games go to Turkey for the first time after four unsuccessful campaigns, including for 2012.
"The most important thing of these Games for Istanbul was that our Prime Minister was at the Opening Ceremony and met President Rogge," Arat told insidethegames.
"His full commitment to Istanbul 2020 is even stronger.
"He is 200 per cent behind the bid."
Erdogan's show of public support for Istanbul during his trip here is significant because it demonstrates that he backs an Olympic and Paralympic bid rather than one from Turkey for the 2020 football European Championships, which they would be the favourites for if they put themselves forward having narrowly missed out on Euro 2016 to France by only one vote.
"Prime Minister Erdogan directly informed President Rogge of his strong support for Istanbul in all aspects without limitations," said Ugur Erdener, the President of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey (NOCT), who is running the bid alongside Arat.
"He informed President Rogge that he is fully behind Istanbul 2020.
"Our Prime Minister used a very important sentence when informing President Rogge of his support.
"He said, 'The Olympic flame has been in my heart for many years.
"'Now I want to take it on my hand.'"
Erdogan also used his visit here to try to lobby support for the bid from other world leaders, including Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron.
"Prime Minister Erdogan informed world leaders about the Istanbul bid," said Erdener.
"I think his visit here was very important."
Istanbul's bid also received a significant boost when Asli Cakir Alptekin and Gamze Bulut finished first and second in the women's 1,500 metres in the Olympic Stadium, the first time a Turk had won a gold medal in athletics at the Olympics.
"Presenting the medals to the two Turkish athletes in front of a packed Olympic Stadium was one of the proudest moments of my Olympic career; and now I am determined to experience this again in 2020 with even more Turkish athletes in the Olympic Stadium in Istanbul," said Erdener.
"This result is the outcome of Turkey's strong investment in both grassroots and elite sport which is enabling more athletes to compete for medals on the world stage.
"I am also really pleased to see the rise in success of our female athletes.
"I am convinced that a home Games in 2020 would inspire millions of young Turkish athletes to try and reach the highest level in sport – so we are determined to take the lessons from London 2012 and use an Istanbul Games in 2020 to achieve this goal."
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