Jan 07, 2013, 09.06 PM | Source: Reuters
OLYMPICS-ISTANBUL:Nothing can stop us now, says Istanbul bid chief
(Reuters) - Istanbul's 2020 Olympic bid has no more obstacles in its way after a decision to stage the 2020 European soccer championship across the continent lifted a huge burden, bid leader Hasan Arat said on Monday.
Arat, handing in his city's official bid book along with bid rivals Tokyo and Madrid to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, told Reuters: "Nothing can really stop us."
The files will be officially released on Tuesday with the IOC electing the winner in September.
Istanbul's bid had been dealt a significant blow last year when Turkey also bid to host Euro 2020 and the IOC said the country could not host both events in the same summer.
With European soccer's governing body UEFA unveiling plans for a continent-wide Euro 2020 in December, Istanbul saw its Olympic chances restored.
"When that question came up we always said that our national priority was Istanbul 2020," Arat told Reuters in a telephone interview from Lausanne.
"This (Euro 2020) case is closed for us now. I hope that people now understand more that the priority is the Games. (Turkey Prime Minister) Tayyip Erdogan said (during the 2012 London Games) 'the Olympic flame is in my heart but now I want to hold it'. That is a top commitment.
"Nothing can really stop us. We promised our people that we will do our work very good," he said.
The IOC did not want an Olympic host nation holding another major event in the same year as the Games due to potential preparation problems and sponsor issues that could arise.
It had warned Turkey it would need to drop its Euro bid if Istanbul, bidding for the fifth time in the last six votes, was awarded the Games next year.
Madrid is bidding for a third consecutive time while Tokyo is submitting its second straight bid after failing to land the 2016 Games awarded to Rio de Janeiro.
"It is a new bid for a new Turkey," Arat said as the Turkish metropolis looks to become the first city in a Muslim nation to hold the world's biggest multi-sports event after a string of failed attempts.
"The economic situation is not the same as in the previous bids. When you look at the average economic growth it is 5.2 percent annually between 2002 and 2011," Arat said.
"There is political stability, government backing is very important and there is big support from the international sports events. That makes us very strong," he said.
The bid books are the cities' official proposals to stage the Games, responding to IOC questions on finances, venues, transport and accommodation among other aspects.
The IOC will stage evaluation visits to the three cities before delivering a report to IOC members ahead of the vote on September 7 at their session in Buenos Aires.
(Editing by Mark Meadows)