After four unsuccessful attempts, Istanbul is ready to pitch its bid for the 2020 Olympics by stressing Turkey’s robust economy, plans for modern venues and a two-continent backdrop.
The city of nearly 15 million, which straddles Europe and Asia, is touting its unique geographical location to set it apart from rival bidders Tokyo and Madrid.
The IOC’s evaluation commission arrives in Istanbul this weekend for a four-day tour to assess Istanbul’s plans, finances and existing venues.
The panel, headed by IOC Vice President Craig Reedie, has already visited Tokyo and Madrid. The full IOC will select the 2020 host city in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7.
Many of Istanbul’s venues will need to be constructed from scratch but Turkey sees this as an advantage, not a setback. Tokyo hosted the 1964 Olympics and Spain held the games in Barcelona in 1992.
“The Istanbul Olympics would be presenting a totally modern, brand new, and specially designed facilities that would 100 percent meet the requirements of each of the sports branches,” Turkey’s Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kilic told the Associated Press in an interview before the IOC visit.
Istanbul would bring the games to a new region that sits on two continents and to a predominantly Muslim nation for the first time.
“Istanbul is the only place which promises Olympic Games held on two continents, at the same time,” Kilic said. “The opening ceremony will be held in Asia with the Bosporus and the continent of Europe as the backdrop, while the water sports competitions will be held on the Golden Horn, with the Bosporus Bridge and Asia in the background.”