By James Crook at the Lenexpo Exhibition Complex in St Petersburg

I2020 - presentation 1May 30 - Istanbul has promised a unique experience that "will open a new gateway, not only to a new country but a new culture", should it be awarded the rights to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics as it gave its first major presentation to an international audience here today.

Hasan Arat (pictured top), the leader of Istanbul 2020, led a highly-polished presentation, alongside Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports Suat Kılıç, London 2012 flagbearer Neslihan Demir Darnel and National Olympic Committee of Turkey (NOCT) President Uğur Erdener.

The presentation focused mainly on the fusion of European and Asian culture in the city, and the growth the nation and indeed the city have experienced, and continue to experience.

"My beloved city has so much to offer for my fellow athletes and Olympic family, but it is more than just a backdrop," Arat explained. 

"In the past, Turkey bid for the Games as an emerging nation.

"This time, Turkey is bidding as an emerged nation."

Kılıç spoke largely of the continued progression of the country through the Games, focusing on its economic development and claiming that Turkey is aiming to have one of the top 10 economies in the world by 2023.

121012149It was also confirmed that work had begun on the third Bosphorus bridge in Istanbul yesterday

"As the representative of our Prime Minister and the Government, I can assure you that hosting the Games in 2020 is a key part of a broad strategic agenda for Turkey," he said.

"Turkey has totally transformed since its last bid.

"We now really understand what it means to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"We are ready to step onto the global stage and welcome the world as we have for millennia.

"But now, to a new Turkey.

"Our commitment to successful sport, to successful Games, is embedded in our Olympic Law which mandates full government support and already establishes our Games delivery structure.

"Enacted in 1992, this legislation guarantees the success of the Games.

"Not just words on paper, but a solid foundation that is backed by our Government 100 per cent."

Emphasis was also placed on transport and infrastructure, with Kılıç claiming that the number of metro users is expected to rise from 1.4 million to seven million over the next five years.

He went on to confirm that construction was underway on the third bridge over the Bosphorus, along with a third €22.1 billion (£18 billion/$27 billion) airport for the city, which has been completely funded by private investment. 

I2020 - presentation 2Istanbul has promised a unique fusion of European and Asian culture should it win the rights to host the 2020 Games

Arat claimed hosting the Games in Istanbul would not only benefit the Turkish financial capital, but would also open a realm of opportunity for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement.

"We have aligned the needs of Istanbul with the needs of the Olympic and Paralympic Games," he added.

"Our city needs more transportation infrastructure, and we are building it.

"Our urban population needs more sports facilities, and we are developing them.

"Our young people need more role models, and the Games offer them."

Erdener insisted the main focus for the Games would be to ensure the standard of sport improves in the nation for the foreseeable future, leaving a lasting sporting legacy on the Eurasian country.

"Since I became President of the Turkish National Olympic Committee, we have grown sport at the grassroots level," said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) member.

"Bringing the Games to Istanbul in 2020 and improving the future of sport is the number one priority for us: for the Turkish Olympic Committee, for the Turkish Prime Minister, and for the Turkish people, who overwhelmingly support our bid.

"The Olympic and Paralympic Games have always been about bringing cultures together and what better place than in Istanbul, a city where beliefs and continents meet.

"We will be a bridge to a historic impact."

Turkey sent its largest ever delegation to the London 2012 Olympic Games but produced a disappointing performance, its worst since Sydney 2000, emphasising the need for new, modern facilities to avoid further regression for the nation.

I2020 presentationTurkish volleyball star and London 2012 flagbearer Neslihan Demir Darnel was part of the presentation team in St Petersburg

"While I have been training, I have seen my city training too," Demir Darnel explained.

"Since 2006, we have hosted forty major sporting events, including four major World Championships in the last year.

"The moment is now for Istanbul."

Istanbul is in the race to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics alongside Tokyo and Marid, with a decision to be made by the IOC in Buenos Aires on September 7.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

elated stories:
May 2013: Construction work on Istanbul's third Bosphorus Bridge proves plans are a "reality" claims Arat
May 2013: Istanbul aiming to capitalise on national Paralympic momentum to secure 2020 Games
May 2013: Turkish company win multi-billon Euro tender to build new airport for Istanbul
May 2013: Istanbul 2020 accept Tokyo Governor's apology over newspaper comments as IOC close case
April 2013: Turkey launches new e-visa system to help boost Istanbul 2020 bid