By Zjan Shirinian

Istanbul's Atatürk Olympic Stadium was an early favourite to host the semi-finals and final of Euro 2020 ©AFP/Getty ImagesApril 25 - Turkey has withdrawn its bid to host the final of Euro 2020 and will instead put all its efforts in a bid to stage the whole of the 2024 tournament - raising the possibility of another headache for its Olympic hosting ambitions.

Istanbul was expected to be among a handful of cities across Europe bidding to stage the semi-finals and final of the European Championship, which for the first time will be held across the continent.

It had been installed as an early favourite to win the right to host those matches.

But just hours before UEFA's bids deadline tonight, the Turkish Football Federation has pulled out.

"We will soon have the 13 stadiums that suit the capacity criteria of European Football Championship," it said in a statement.

"That being the case, Turkey is in a position to host the whole tournament by itself with its communication infrastructure, travelling and accommodation opportunities and above all, passion for football.

"For this reason, our Board today decided not to bid for the semi-final and final games of Euro 2020."

Turkey lost out to France by one vote for Euro 2016, and was the only serious contender to host Euro 2020 before UEFA chose to stage games across Europe instead of one or two countries

Turkey's bid for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games was seen as one reason why UEFA decided to change the staging format for a competition that will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the first European Championship being staged.

International Olympic Committee rules would have prevented Turkey from hosting any other major sporting event in 2020 if it won the Games, the host for which was to be decided before UEFA made its decision.

With many expecting Istanbul - which came second to Tokyo in the race for the 2020 Games - to bid again for the 2024 edition, Turkey could once again face a conflict between its desire to host the two events.

France, the 2016 hosts, and Switzerland, the 2008 co-hosts, have also withdrawn expected bids today.

It means around 25 cities across Europe are expected to bid to stage games at Euro 2020.

Thirteen cities in 13 countries will be awarded matches, with one venue to stage the semi-finals and final of the tournament.

At least 24 cities from Dublin to Jerusalem are understood to be bidding to stage a "standard package" of four games - three group stage matches and a knockout clash.

Only the Ukrainian capital Kiev is understood to just be bidding for the "finals package", which contains the coveted semi-finals and finals.

Five other cities are also bidding for the "finals package", as well as the "standard package" - Brussels, London, Munich, Madrid and Bilbao.

London's Wembley Stadium hosted the final of Euro 1996, with the venue since rebuilt.

Wembley Stadium, which hosted Germany's Euro 1996 final triumph against Czech Republic, could be in line to stage the final again in 2020 in its rebuilt stadium ©AFP/Getty ImagesWembley Stadium, which hosted Germany's Euro 1996 final triumph against Czech Republic, could be in line to stage the final again in 2020 in its rebuilt stadium ©AFP/Getty Images

Munich hosted the final of Euro 1988, while Madrid hosted the final of Euro 1964.

Brussels hosted a semi-final in Euro 2000, a tournament it co-hosted with the Netherlands.

The Football Association of Wales today confirmed its bid to stage games at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, with chief executive Jonathan Ford saying it had "a strong and compelling proposition".

Poland and Czech Republic both pulled out of bidding for matches yesterday, believed to be because of a lack of financial guarantees.

The cities which have announced bids or are understood to be bidding are:

• Yerevan, Armenia

• Baku, Azerbaijan

• Minsk, Belarus

• Brussels, Belgium

• Sofia, Bulgaria

• Copenhagen, Denmark

• London, England

• Munich, Germany

• Athens, Greece

• Budapest, Hungary

• Dublin, Republic of Ireland

• Jerusalem, Israel

• Rome, Italy

• Astana, Kazakhstan

• Skopje, Republic of Macedonia

• Amsterdam, Netherlands

• Bucharest, Romania

• Saint Petersburg, Russia

• Glasgow, Scotland

• Belgrade, Serbia

• Madrid, Spain

• Bilbao, Spain

• Stockholm, Sweden

• Donetsk, Ukraine

• Wales, Cardiff

The successful host cities are due be announced on September 19.

Twenty-four teams will play 51 games across a month of competition in 2020, with the dates for the tournament yet to be announced.

The 2016 edition, the first to be held in an expanded format composed of 24 rather than 16 teams, is being held in France from June 10 to July 10.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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