The IOC's decision to make Istanbul a candidate city to host the Olympic Games 2020, has been hailed as a historic one for Turkey by representatives of its campaign. The IOC decided on Wednesday to eliminate Doha and Baku leaving Istanbul in the race along with Tokyo and Madrid.
Istanbul is also in the race for the European Football Championship in 2020 as well, but it cannot have both. “If it were possible, we would be pleased to organize both events,” said Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç, noting that Turkey is economically strong enough to handle both events. “But it's not possible to organize both events because a time period of at least six months is required between events,” the minister commented, adding that officials are in fact discussing extending the time period to one year.
Luckily the Olympics decision will be made around next September, while the European Championship will be decided at the beginning of 2014, so Turkey plans to stay in the running for both and make its decision to pull out as it needs to.
If Turkey wins the privilege of hosting the Olympics, it will be the first time the event has ever been hosted by a Muslim country. However, organisers of the campaign are also keen to stress their roots across many cultures. Kılıç emphasized, “Should İstanbul be the winner, for the first time the Olympics will be held by a country in the Turkic and Islamic world.”
Kılıç also said that it would cost Istanbul less to hold the event, because it already has major infrastructural developments underway.
Istanbul fully expects to win the race: Uğur Erdener, president of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey, spoke to Anatolia news agency in Quebec after the IOC announced its decision on Wednesday night. “This is a result we expected,” he said. “İstanbul has the highest chance of holding the 2020 Olympic Games.”