Istanbul 2020 Capabilities On Display at Mersin 2013 Mediterranean Games

With eyes on Istanbul as a potential host of the 2020 Olympic Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC) members on Tuesday received a technical evaluation of the city’s bid plans and they’ll view a presentation at Olympic headquarters in Lausanne next week.
But its worth taking note that about 950km southeast of Istanbul, Mersin in Turkey is currently hosting the 17th Mediterranean Games as what could be considered a pilot project for the Olympics.
“In fact, Turkey is making a rehearsal in Mersin,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the opening ceremonies for the Games.
“As we are hosting the biggest sports organization in the Mediterranean region, we are actually preparing for 2020 Istanbul Olympics.”
Amid the nation-wide anti-government protests that have grabbed international headlines this month, organizers have persevered to demonstrate that Turkey can still deliver on its sports agenda and fulfill promises made.
After Greece was stripped of the Games in 2011 due to its national economic crisis, Mersin stepped up and promised to deliver within an 18-month timeframe – significantly less than the usual six-year lead time normally given to host cities.
“The delivery of Mersin 2013’s robust Games platform in such a comparatively short time has rightly drawn much praise from the media and the Olympic Family as well as fans and athletes here in Mersin,” Professor Ugur Erdener, President of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey explained.
Turkish construction agency TOKI was responsible for the on time brick-and-mortar delivery of the Games, the same agency that would become the delivery agency should Istanbul by chosen to host the Olympic Games in 2020.
The IOC evaluation report noted “the Commission is confident that given the government’s full support and the proven track-record of TOKI to date … construction works could be funded and completed on time, in line with construction best-practices and standards and would meet Games requirements.”
“But it is not just in bricks and mortar that the Organising Committee, under the leadership of the Minister of Youth and Sport, Suat Kilic, has excelled,” Erdener noted.
“Naturally they have had much less time to publicise these Games than normal but I have seen stadia at full capacity with fans turning out to watch Turkish and foreign athletes alike. The athletes here have access to top-quality facilities to help them reach their personal best and their superb performances are adding to the excitement for all fans.
“The Turkish government provided a significant budget for these Games compared with previous editions and this shows how committed Turkey is to organising first-class events and to hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Mersin will prove to be an excellent template for Istanbul 2020, if our bid is victorious.”
The Games’ Opening Ceremony drew a capacity crowd of 25,000 at Mersin stadium and attendance at the sport venues has been good, Deputy General Coordinator of the Mediterranean Games Muhammed Adak reported.