Leaders of Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games say the project enjoys overwhelming domestic support and is picking up momentum ahead of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) vote, despite anti-government protests, doping scandals and low attendance at an international football tournament.
Turkish officials are in London Thursday to promote their bid in the race against Madrid and Tokyo. Istanbul bid leader Hasan Arat told The Associated Press, “we’ve talked a lot about this issue. Now we concentrate on our technical excellence. We feel the last 45 days will be very important for us and we will work a lot. It’s like a final game. We will go in it to win it. That’s why we feel very strong right now”.
He added, “I don’t want to comment on the others, but Istanbul is really picking up after (the technical presentations in) Lausanne. Now we are doing really very well. I can feel that from the Olympic world”.
As for the doping scandals, Arat called it “a global issue”. You need more education. What Turkey is doing now is very good, pushing and testing. Those who are found cheating will be punished. We are really working very tough and I think the NOC (National Olympic Committee) is doing very well and Turkish anti-doping agency is doing very well. We will not let anybody to continue like this. We will very tough on that”.
Arat said public support for the bid has risen 94 per cent among Istanbul residents. He said the bid committee carried out its own survey “about two months ago”, which would have been just before the protests began.
A poll carried out earlier this year by the IOC showed that 83 per cent supported Istanbul’s bid.
Arat said, “the support is very strong and remaining positive. We have the highest results from the IOC poll. It will increase more before Buenos Aires” where the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games will be elected in September.