Facilities, expertise and geography to help Istanbul Olympic bid

May 10, 2012

Emel Kanat

For Emel Kanat, there is no doubt that Istanbul should be the host of the 2020 Olympic Games.

“It is the only city that intersects two continents and the hearts of its people vibrate passionately for sports and for the Olympic spirit,” the marketing and sales specialist said.

Strutting Istiklal Avenue near Taksim Square, the symbolic heart of modern Istanbul, she insisted that the bid by one of the world’s top tourism destinations should this time, the fifth, be successful.

“We were unlucky in our past four attempts, but this time we are doing really well. The city simply has what it takes to hold international games and the International Olympic Committee should appreciate our assets when it decides on who will host the Games. As a nation, we have reached across all continents and Istanbul today is more than a cosmopolitan city; it is home to a wide spectrum of races, religions, histories and cultures that coexist peacefully,” she said, flashing into a large smile.

Istanbul, Baku, Doha, Madrid and Tokyo are vying to host the 2020 Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee is set to decide the shortlist of the candidate cities on May 23. The venue of the quadrennial event will be announced on September 7, 2013.

But, like millions of young people growing up today in Turkey, Emel feels that the new merits of her country deserved the international recognition.

“This is a very attractive city. Great facilities are available and they are of high international standards, the weather is splendid and we have a city that has been graciously hospitable for centuries for all cultures and civilisations. Whoever needed a shelter or a home in the world came to Istanbul and they were all warmly welcomed in the city. There is clear and heart-warming pluralism and religions have co-existed for centuries in peace,” Emel said as she sipped her cup of Turkish coffee. Most Istanbulites and Turks she knows have teh same views, she said.

According to Professor Ugur Erdener, the President of Turkey’s National Olympic Committee, a successful Games concept starts and ends with the needs of athletes at its heart. “We have sought feedback from national Olympic committees around the world and we have also built on the lessons of our recent Olympic bids,” he said. “This is a new bid from a new Turkey and our plan delivers transport, accommodation, training and competition solutions that ensure maximum athlete comfort and performance. There is also an exotic side to our plans as this will be the first ever Games where athletes can compete in one city but on two continents.”

The Istanbul bid is being lifted by a set of positive economic data that confirmed in April that Turkey has one of the world’s fastest growing economies and that its GDP remained strong at 8.5% in 2011 (9% in 2010) while public debt fell from 74% of GDP in 2002 to 40% last year. Half of Turkey’s 70 million people are under the age of 25 and they will celebrate all athletes in 2020, Erdener said. “They will take the Olympic Movement forward in the 21st century and build a bridge to the future. The fabric of our society is built on freedom and respect. People and the media from every nation will be welcome to discover our fascinating country,” he said.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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