August 13 - Istanbul hope that a successful bid for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics will be a "platform for change" Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said here today as he provided more details of their bid.
Erdogan received a standing ovation from a specially selected crowd of politicians, sports administrators, Olympic officials and international media as he laid out Istanbul's plans, claiming that they "learned our lessons" from its previous bids.
Istanbul mounted four consecutive failed bids, for the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
In their last unsuccessful campaign Istanbul did not even make it onto the shortlist for 2012, which was won by London.
But their chances are considered to be stronger for this contest and Erdogan, a former Mayor of Istanbul, has already signalled that he is prepared to offer unprecedented support to this latest bid.
"We have listened and we have learned valuable lessons from our earlier bidding experience," he said.
"Committed to delivering solutions to the issues that were previously raised by the IOC (International Olympic Committee), we have invested heavily in increasing and improving our sporting facilities, as well as developing youth participation in sport at both mass and elite level.
"Recently we have successfully hosted international events such as the basketball World Championships in 2010, as well as the European Youth Olympic Festival in Trabzon in July of this year."
Turkey mounted a strong challenge for the 2016 European Football Championships, only losing to France by one vote in the election last year.
They had been pondering another bid to host Euro 2020 but following discussions between Erdogan and leading sports officials they have now decided to concentrate on the Olympics and Paralympics.
The bid will come on the back of the recent trend of major events being awarded to developing countries, including the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics to Rio de Janeiro and the 2018 FIFA World Cup to Russia.
"Whilst we are historically significant city that divides two continents, our world today is global," said Erdogan.
"It is not about east or west, north or south.
"It is about much more.
"It's about providing the opportunity for people to share and understand different cultures and religions from around the world.
"It's about creating good will and acceptance.
"It's about new regions of the world becoming a strong part of our world and helping us all to prosper.
"The Olympic Movement has the power to influence the course of the world and Istanbul wants to be the platform for change.
"We can be the bridge that unites the world."
The centrepiece of Istanbul's bid will be the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, which was built in 2003 and hosted the 2005 Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan (pictured).
Erdogan claimed that most of the facilities needed to host the Olympics were already in place while Istanbul's rapidly improving infrastructure will be ready by 2020.
"The investment needed to stage an Olympics...we are talking pennies," he claimed.
Istanbul join a field which also includes Madrid, Rome and Tokyo.
Unlike their rivals, Erdogan claims that Turkey has weathered the worldwide economic crisis without major problems.
"In a time of global economic downturn, we maintain our position as one of the fastest growing economies throughout the world," he said, claiming that the Turkish economy had grown by 11 per cent in the first quarter of this year.
"We will provide the strength, stability and secure foundation that is needed to guarantee and deliver the IOC's institutional and operational requirements.
"We are confident that the same forward thinking characteristic that is driving our economy will be potrayed within the organisational committee that will lead this bid.
"Our most siginficant focus towards the Games is on our youth and the inspirations that will drive them.
"Given that the average age in Turkey is 29, we want to leave a lasting legacy that will instil values from the Olympic Movement into the youth of today; not only in our own country, but throughout younger generations in all countries, throughout all religions and cultures."
Uğur Erdener, the President of the Turkish National Olympic Committee and a member of the IOC, was thrilled with the level of support the bid is already receiving.
"We are delighted that the whole country is rallying behind this remarkable event, and with support from the President of the Republic [Abdullah Gul], our Prime Minister, all our Government and our great nation, we fully believe that we are in line to become one of the strongest contenders for this bid," he said.
There could also be bids from Doha and Durban but Erdogan is confident that Istanbul have everything in place to be successful.
"Istanbul is ready," he said.
The host city will be chosen by the IOC at its Session in Buenos Aires on September 7, 2013.
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