March 22 - Istanbul today welcomed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission as they travelled to Turkey to prepare for its final inspection of the three cities bidding for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.
Britain's Sir Craig Reedie. chairman of the Evaluation Commission, and his 14-member team were met at Ataturk International Airport after travelling from Madrid, where they had completed their inspection of the Spanish capital's bid yesterday, by IOC member Ugur Erderner and the Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbas.
The Commission, which has already visited Tokyo, left Madrid on a Turkish Airlines plane branded "Istanbul 2020".
The Commission are due to begin its four-day inspection of Turkey's financial capital on Sunday (March 24).
It is the city's fifth bid to host the Olympics and Paralympics, following unsuccessful campaigns to host the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games.
One of its main attractions, Turkish officials claim, is that Istanbul would bring the Games to a new region that sits on two continents and to a predominantly Muslim nation for the first time.
But at $19.2 billion (£12.6 billion/€14.8 billion), its projected infrastructure budget for the Olympics is ten times that of Madrid, which is planning to spend $1.9 billion (£1.3 billion/€1,5 billion), and higher than Tokyo, whose figure is $4.9 billion (£3,2 billion/€3.7 billion)
But Turkey claims to be the fastest growing economy in Europe.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
March 2013: Fashion Week, Cirque Du Soleil and Alicia Keys announcement boost Istanbul's cultural credentials ahead of IOC visit
March 2013: Turkey "outperformed" emerging markets, confirms Olympic bid boosting Forbes report
March 2013: Greece pledge support to Turkey 2020 Olympic bid in historic agreement
March 2013: Istanbul 2020 Olympic bid helping fight prejudice over EU membership Turkish Minister claims
February 2013: Turkey has "no other agenda" promises Istanbul 2020 bid leader