Embatteld Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s intention to lead the Istanbul 2020 Olympic bid team into Buenos Aires for the final vote in September has been reaffirmed by the delegation in Lausanne Wednesday. The Istanbul team, along with contenders Tokyo and Madrid are in the Olympic Capital for key presentations to 84 International Olympic Committee (IOC) members who are present for an extraordinary session.
GamesBids.com originally reported in March that Erdogan would attend the 2020 bid city election after bid Chief Hasan Arat said he could confirm the fact following a conversation with government officials. In recent years, it has become common for top national leaders and royalty to attend the final presentations ahead of the vote – among many others, U.S. President Barack Obama helped promote Chicago while Russia’s Vladimir Putin spoke in English for Sochi’s winning bid.
Erdogan has been under an international microscope in recent weeks as the focus of anti-government demonstrations across Turkey; and he has been criticized for his aggressive handling of peacefull protests including arrests of journalists and lashing out at social media, especially Twitter.
On Wednesday the three cities made 45-minute presentations to the IOC members followed by 45 minute question-and-answer sessions. On September 7, the bids will make similar presentations immediately prior to the final vote and Erdogan will have an opportunity to directly address the IOC during Istanbul’s programme.