Istanbul hopes to be fifth time lucky in Olympics race

Updated: Mar 01, 2013, 19:57 PM IST

Istanbul: More than 400 sports leaders and government officials held an International Sports Summit here Friday for the first step towards Istanbul`s bid for the 2020 Olympics.

Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports Suat Kilic claimed at the meeting that Istanbul deserves to host the 2020 Olympics because it has been on the bidding process for a long time. "We had bid for four times and now fifth."

He said that the bidding process has been supported by the Turkish government and parliament while Istanbul has become the top five tourist destination in the world, receiving 15 million tourists every year.

Hasan Arat, who heads Istanbul 2020 Bid committee, is optimistic about the city`s fifth bid, stating that over the past several years the city has seen the development of new venues and infrastructure improvements. Turkey`s fast growing economy can also greatly benefit the bid.

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was also present at the meeting, offering his advice to Turkish Olympics organising committee. "I would vote for Istanbul if I have one vote."

The summit aims to introduce Istanbul, an ambitious candidate for the 2020 Games, and talk about the socio-economic contributions that would come from hosting the Summer Games.

The first of its kind, the International Summit, will become an annual event in the near future, according to the official statement.

Hosting a series of prominent speakers, from football coach Fatih Terim to representatives of Turkish and Brazilian Olympics committees, panels at the event focused on the economics of the Olympics, violence in sports events, the notion of fair play and branding in sports.

The bid for the host will be announced Sep 7, 2013 at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires.

The main rivals against Istanbul are Tokyo and Madrid.

The National Olympic Committee of Turkey announced the selection of Istanbul as Turkey`s candidate July 7, 2011. Turkey`s candidacy was announced officially by Prime Minister Erdogan August 13 in the same year.