ISTANBUL, September 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Istanbul aims to "do a London" and snatch the 2020 Olympic Games when the vote for the host city is held by the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires this weekend.
This is a reference to the selection of London as host of last year's Summer Games. When the IOC vote was held in Singapore back in 2005, a last-minute lobbying campaign allowed it to pip favourite candidate city Paris by just four votes. Currently Tokyo is considered the favourite, but Istanbul's bid team is heading to Argentina hoping to emulate London's late charge.
"We will fight for every vote just like London did," said Turkish MP Egemen Bağış, who even met with London's mayor Boris Johnson to learn from the experience.
"Just as British Prime Minister Tony Blair made the difference in Singapore, our Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be making our case in Argentina."
That case is based largely on the positive IOC inspection report that found Istanbul's bid to be financially sound, backed by $19.2 billion of infrastructure commitments, including a third bridge across the Bosporus, a new rail tunnel and a third Istanbul airport.
Despite the Gezi Park protests in June, Bağış remained upbeat to face off the challenge from Tokyo and Madrid. "The Turkish bid team won't be hiding from the protest issue when they meet the (IOC) committee members," Bağış said. "In the wake of the protests we have listened, and Turkey is united in its desire to welcome the world to Istanbul in 2020."
Bağış is Turkey's Minister for EU Affairs but he could well become a key player in a successful 2020 games bid. He is widely tipped to be a candidate for Istanbul mayor at next year's election with the endorsement of Erdogan - the man who advocated bidding for the Olympic Games when he was mayor of the city between 1994 and 1998.
"Turkey would be the first Muslim country to host the Olympic Games," said Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Vice Chairman of Turkey's Justice and Development Party and a likely contender for the mayoral post in Antalya, adding that the Olympic values of peace through sport would be good for the region.
In Buenos Aires Turkey will be highlighting its ability to hold major sporting events, including this year's Mediterranean Games and the FIFA under-20 World Cup.
SOURCE Turkey Observer