2020 Bidder Profile: Istanbul

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Six cities have been put forward by their respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to apply to host the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in 2020. The cities are: Baku (Azerbaijan), Doha (Qatar), Istanbul (Turkey), Madrid (Spain), Rome (Italy) and Tokyo (Japan). Here, MEI takes a closer look at Istanbul, European Capital of Culture in 2010.

Istanbul was nominated as a 2020 bidder on 7 July 2011, at the 123rd IOC session in Durban, and was confirmed as Turkey's bid on 24 July 2011. Turkey's candidacy was announced officially on 13 August 2011. Turkey has yet to host an Olympic Games despite Istanbul having made several previous bids for the Summer Games. The city was a candidate for the 2000 Games which were awarded to Sydney. It bid again for 2004, which were held in Athens, but failed to become a candidate city. It became a candidate for 2008 but lost to Beijing. The Turkish city's most recent bid was for the 2012 Games but it failed to become a candidate. Istanbul's 2020 bid will be the city's fifth bid. Turkey has set up a permanent Olympic Bid Committee and has passed a law stating that Istanbul shall bid for the Olympic Games until it is successful. The Ataturk Olympic Stadium has already been built and stands ready to welcome the Games. When we bid for the 2000 Olympic Games in 1993, we only received seven votes, said Yalcin Aksoy, general director of the Istanbul Olympic Bidding Committee. We then visited each and every IOC member and categorised their reasons for not voting for us. The results fell into three areas. One group thought we werent really serious and just wanted the PR benefits from the bid. The second group felt we didnt have enough venues and couldnt build them in time. The third group were concerned at our general lack of infrastructure at the time. Those are all areas we have addressed or are addressing. Aksoy continued: " When Istanbul was chosen as a Candidate City [in 2008], we were in a national economic crisis. We were surprised we didn't make the short–list again for 2012 because four years later there was no trace of a crisis. When they chose not to short–list us, we already had the Olympic stadium built. The accommodation infrastructure was better by 20%. Istanbul was a better city than when it was short–listed. " Mehmet Atalay, head of Turkey's Youth and Sports Directorate, believed that Istanbul has learned from previous mistakes and development in the city means that it would make a strong case for 2020. Atalay said: Istanbul has changed a lot and we feel much more confident to be in a race with other cities. Turkey is a big country and has major potential for hosting such events. Like London we have the history, the culture and the organisational experience. Also, we are the bridge between Europe and Asia and the proof is that different cultures and different religions live side by side in a friendly environment. We decided not to bid for 2016 while we concentrated on trying to make sure we had everything in place to launch a serious attempt for 2020. We think that if we keep pursuing this goal then, ultimately, we will achieve it. Hosting ExperienceIstanbul hosted the knockout stage of the 2010 Basketball World Championship as well as the final. Istanbul was chosen as European Capital of Sports for 2012. The 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships and the 2012 FINA Short Course World Championships will be hosted in Istanbul. The Abdi Ipekçi Arena hosted the Final of EuroBasket 2001, and was also the venue for the 1992 Euroleague Final Four. The venue also hosted 2004 Eurovision Song Contest. Formula One made its debut in Istanbul in 2005 with the Turkish Grand Prix. Facilities at the $70m Hermann Tilke–designed Istanbul Park Circuit on the outskirts of the city have impressed sports regulators. The circuit is only the third anti–clockwise circuit on the Formula One calendar after San Marino and Brazil. VenuesTurkish Olympic bidding persistence results from a unique law introduced by the Turkish parliament in 1992, whereby the country was compelled to prepare Istanbul for the staging of the Olympics in order to release funds into sport. As a result, Istanbul, which was a shortlisted candidate for the 2008 event, had already spent a reported $240m building the necessary sporting infrastructures to host the historic competition. The core of the project was the 80, 000–capacity Olympic Stadium, situated 30 minutes to the west of the city, which was completed in 2002 at a cost of only $120m. Istanbul authorities also intend to spend $10bn on improving transport in the city over the next 10 years. Over the last 17 years, the Istanbul Olympic Bidding Committee has spent $268m on its Olympic Project, 86% of which has been spent on 10 new and nine modernised sports venues. This includes the Ataturk Olympic Stadium (see below), making Turkey the only country in the world to have built its Olympic stadium without having first been awarded the right to host the Games. Of 2, 574 sport facilities in Turkey, 261 now belong to the private sector. Besiktas Inonu Stadium is the home stadium of the football club Besiktas JK in Istanbul, Turkey. It is located in Dolmabahçe close to Besiktas on the European part of Istanbul. The stadium has a capacity of 35, 000. According to the great footballer Pele, Besiktas stadium has the most beautiful views in the world. While watching the match in this stadium it is possible to see Bosphorus, Dolmabahçe Palace, the Historical Clock Tower of Dolmabahçe Palace and Kiz Kulesi. Besiktas' stadium, named after the Turkish statesman Ismet Inonu, is the only stadium in the world where it is possible to view two continents – Europe and Asia – over the Bosporus. Ali Sami Yen Stadium is home of the football club Galatasaray. The capacity is 25, 000 (having been 35, 000 originally). The stadium is generally known as The Hell by Galatasaray's supporters because of its intimidating atmosphere and enthusiastic support of the fans who often make mass use of torches and giant posters to create visual grandeur and apply psychological pressure on visiting teams. Ali Sami Yen is important for Galatasaray because it has seen many victories against renowned European football clubs, such as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan and PSV Eindhoven. Ali Sami Yen was replaced with a new ground in Seyrantepe, near the Maslak financial district, the Sinan Erdem Dome, which was a venue for the 2010 FIBA World Basketball Championships. The multi–purpose sports complex has a seating capacity for 52, 000 spectators making it the largest private stadium owned by a club in Turkey. It also features a mobile pitch and a hydraulic dome at the top (retractable roof), which can be closed in case of rain or snow. Ataturk Olimpiyat Stadyumu is located in Ikitelli, on the outskirts of Istanbul, and is the highest–capacity stadium in Turkey. It was built for Turkey's Olympics bid and cost about $100m. With its 81, 283 seats and Olympic size, it was granted the Five–star sport complex title by UEFA in 2004, enabling it to host UEFA finals. Ataturk Olimpiyat Stadyumu has hosted several European athletic competitions. Galatasaray played its home games at Ataturk Olimpiyat Stadyumu during the 2003–04 football season, due to the bad condition of its own venue, Ali Sami Yen Stadium, and this was criticised by other teams. The 2005 UEFA Champions League Final was played at Ataturk Olimpiyat Stadyumu. Other sports venuesIstanbul Autodrom, capacity 155, 000F'bahce Sukru Saracoglu, capacity 46, 231Veli Efendi Hipodromu, capacity 25, 000Plus nine others over 10, 000 capacity

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