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Istanbul 2020: A Chance to Step “Beyond Sport to Make History”


Istanbul 2020 delivered a detailed explanation of the most compelling features of its bid to nearly 100 International Olympic Committee (IOC) members at the 2020 Candidate Cities Briefing in Lausanne, focusing on Turkey’s delivery capacity and the profound impact the country’s first Games would have on the region’s young people.

Istanbul 2020’s panel for the 2020 Candidate City Briefing to IOC members comprised: Ali Babacan, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey for Economic and Financial Affairs; Suat Kılıç, Turkey’s Minister of Youth and Sport; Hasan Arat, Istanbul 2020 Chairman; Professor Uǧur Erdener, IOC member and President of the Turkish National Olympic Committee; Ahmet Haluk Karabel, President of TOKI – Istanbul 2020’s delivery agency; Ali Kiremitcioglu, CEO of Istanbul 2020; Alp Berker, Director of Sport for Istanbul 2020; Gizem Girişmen, Paralympian, archer and Istanbul 2020 Ambassador; Neslihan Darnel, Olympian, volleyball player and Istanbul 2020 Ambassador; and Çağla Büyükakçay, Turkey’s number one female tennis player.

Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan emphasized that after a decade of political, social and economic transformation, Turkey has “the greatest capacity to stage the Games” in its history.

“Since 2002, our GDP per capita has tripled. In the past four years, we have created 4.8 million new jobs for our people,” Babacan said. “We have one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in Europe. We can completely accommodate the guarantees and Games scope in our national finances. It may seem that the Istanbul 2020 non-OCOG budget of $19.4 billion is large, but my government is already investing most of this budget anyway. $16.5 billion dollars of investments are already underway, leaving $2.9 billion for the unique needs of the Games. That is less than 1% of our overall investment budget over the next seven years.”

Babacan went on to describe the robust governance and financing strategies Istanbul 2020 has undertaken to engineer risk out of its Games project.

“For the first time ever, a bidding city already has the governance structures and funding in place before its election. Our Olympic Law was enacted more than 20 years ago and mandates full government support,” Babcan said. “We do not need new legislation, additional guarantees or any bureaucratic process to move the Games forward. Our Games infrastructure agency, TOKI […] has built 600,000 new residences in the last 10 years – that’s the equivalent of five Olympic Villages every year. Today, TOKI has the necessary funds and land to build all the infrastructure for the Games.”

Minister of Youth and Sports, Suat Kılıç, described TOKI’s recent contributions to Turkish sport.

“In Mersin, we accomplished a rather difficult challenge,” Kılıç said. “We built 12 new Olympic-calibre venues within only 18 months of being awarded these Games, with the help of our colleagues at TOKI. All services, including transportation, security, accommodation, medical and ticketing were delivered according to the plan. This was an important test of our ability to deliver.”

Istanbul 2020 Chairman, Hasan Arat, discussed the powerful alignment between Istanbul’s Games objectives and the city’s long-term  development goals.

“Istanbul’s 2020 Games vision is perfectly aligned with Turkey’s 2023 Master Plan,” Arat said. “It is already in motion and delivers certainty, equally for the Games of 2020 and the city of Istanbul. Our city needs more transportation infrastructure, and we are building it. Our urban population needs more sports facilities, and we are developing them. Our young people need role models, and the Games offers them. We know we can deliver, because Istanbul has matched a 20-year-desire to host the Games with commitment and capacity. Our city can  guarantee an extraordinary Games. The Olympic Movement has stepped beyond sport to make history before, and you can do it again in Istanbul in 2020. Now is the time for us to Bridge Together.”

Professor Uǧur Erdener, IOC member and President of the Turkish NOC, revealed the bid’s conviction that “a compact Games is not enough – it must be a once-in-a-lifetime experience”.

“We want our Games to highlight sport in its best possible setting, across two continents, showcasing our diversity, and a Games Plan that balances compactness and operational effectiveness,” Erdener said. “A plan that is actually very similar in scale to those of the past several Olympic Games. A Games in Istanbul will provide a stunning theatre, capturing the world’s imagination. We will work with you to reinforce the Games as the world’s premiere event.”

Aspiring Olympian, Çağla Büyükakçay, underlined just how much hosting the Games means to young people in Turkey.

“My dream is to become an Olympian, but today I represent the dreams of all Turkish young people,” Büyükakçay said. “Fifty percent of the population is just like me. We are the youth, the future – more than 30 million of us. We are ambitious and full of optimism. The Olympic dream is one of our shared dreams. Why do we want the Games in Istanbul in 2020? We believe in the power of sport to unlock our potential and achieve lasting and positive change. I know this, because it has happened for me.”

This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl Heinz-Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Heinz-Huba.


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