February 15 - Hasan Arat (pictured second from left), a leading member of the Istanbul 2020 Olympic and Paralympic bid team, claimed that the Turkish city is focused only on their own bid despite the withdrawal of Rome from the race after he today led the delegation that delivered the cities' Applicant File to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) here.
The Applicant City file was delivered at the IOC headquarters ahead of the closing deadline tonight with Istanbul becoming the last of the five cities to submit their bid with Tokyo and Doha having handed in their files on Monday (February 13) and Madrid and Baku having given over their documents yesterday.
Rome were set to follow the five bidding cities in submitting their Applicant City file later today but their bid was scrapped yesterday evening when Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti claimed that it would be "irresponsible" given the country's economic plight.
Rome's withdrawal should boost the prospects of Istanbul, who can now realistically aspire to collecting the votes of more Europe-based IOC members, but Hasan, the vice-president of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey (NOCT), revealed that his team are focused solely on themselves rather than on what their rivals are doing.
"It is an equal competition and it will be an IOC decision where the event goes, not our decision," Arat told insidethegames.
"Therefore we are focused only on ourselves and we will do our best to explain about our city's position, our country's position and our economic position.
"It is a great day for us and a fantastic opportunity for Turkey so we are happy to be here today after all the hard work we have put in.
"But nothing has finished yet and the journey has only just started for us."
Arat (pictured), who is also a highly successful businessman and former top-level basketball player, rather tellingly underlined the strength of the Turkish economy and the huge Government support for the bid; the two things that Rome lacked which ultimately proved the downfall of the Italian capital.
"With such strong leadership in Turkey, the economy is doing very well," he said.
"Last year, we had 8.3 per cent growth which is the second highest in the world after China.
"That means we are the fastest growing economy in Europe and the sixteenth largest economy in the world so we have enough resources to make this happen.
"Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has identified Istanbul 2020 as a personal and strategic imperative.
"Our unique Olympic Law ensures Games delivery is a national priority and the Olympic Charter is even incorporated into our Constitution.
"Around 87 per cent of people in Istanbul want to see the Games come to their city and our young, dynamic population is desperate for more chances to play and stay in sport.
"Turkey wants the Games and we are ready for the challenge."
This is Istanbul's fifth campaign to win the Olympics, having failed in bids for the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games, but Arat is confident they can finally secure victory.
"The last decade has been a period of spectacular development for Turkey; now we are ready to deliver a truly world-class Games," he said.
"Our dramatically enhanced Application File is the culmination of 20 years' bidding experience with lessons learned and improvements made along every step of the way."
Following the submission of all the Applicant City files, the IOC will study them before announcing which cities have been shortlisted for Candidate City status at its Executive Board meeting in Quebec City on May 23, though it appears increasingly likely that all five could go through because of Rome's withdrawal.
The IOC admitted that they were delighted to have bids from five contenders despite the withdrawal of Rome.
"We still have a strong group of applicant cities bidding to host the Olympic Games in 2020 and the IOC looks forward to an exciting competition in the months leading to the election of the host city in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 7 September 2013," an IOC spokesperson told insidethegames.
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