Turkey pursues 2020 Olympics bid despite unrest in Istanbul
Istanbul will emerge from its current bloody strife with its credentials as potential hosts of the 2020 Olympics enhanced even further, the city’s bid team insisted on Saturday.
The Turkish city is vying with Tokyo and Madrid to stage the Games and presented its case in a 15-minute pitch to 200 members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
But their campaign has been jolted by ongoing anti-government demonstrations which have left 7,500 people injured and four dead.
“The path of a democratic nation is not always an easy one, but it is the right one,” said Ugur Erdener, the president of the Turkish Olympic Committee.
“We welcome the dialogue that is taking place and the beginning of the winding down of the protests. In Istanbul, the voice of progress will be tempered by the voice of tolerance. The bond of our secular democracy, and its responsibility to govern, will be strengthened. And Istanbul will be an even better host for 2020.”
The IOC evaluation committee will present its report on the three cities on June 25 before the winning candidate is named in Buenos Aires on September 7.
Istanbul’s bid chief executive Hasan Arat said he remained confident in the city’s chances.
“This is a marathon. As a bid leader, I am like an athlete. You have to play the game until the last second. You can have ups and downs,” said Arat.
“But the most important for us, we are who we are. Nothing has changed for us. We are a very young, very dynamic country.”
[Image via Agence France-Presse]