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Istanbul 2020: a bridge to future generations

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Istanbul 2020 has revealed a new team of bid ambassadors for the final days of its Olympic bid campaign: 50 young athletes under the age of 25, who will sit in the front row of the Istanbul 2020 delegation for Saturday’s final presentation and embody Istanbul 2020’s commitment to engaging the youth of the world.

The 50 Young Ambassadors – comprising half the official Istanbul 2020 delegation – were announced at a press briefing for the international media in Buenos Aires (pictured). They represent the huge youth population in Turkey, where nearly half of the population is under-25, making it the youngest country in Europe.

Istanbul 2020 Chairman Hasan Arat said:

The delegation we have here is a clear sign of how seriously we take our pledge to engage with the huge young population in Turkey and across the Olympic Movement. Turkey’s youth are at the very heart of our bid, our greatest natural resource and our brightest prospect for the future – so it is right that we should turn to them to help us bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games to Turkey for the very first time.

Hasan Arat described the wide-ranging youth engagement strategy Istanbul 2020 will pursue should they be awarded the Games. It is based on four pillars: Olympic Education; Olympic and Paralympic Sports Promotion; Communications and Engagement; and Community Activation. Istanbul 2020 made a commitment to establishing a Youth and Education Steering Committee in its Candidature File, to ensure that the needs and aspirations of young people are taken into consideration at all stages of Games planning and delivery. It is hoped that a number of the young people in Buenos Aires with Istanbul 2020 this week will play a prominent role in that committee.

Turkey is already fully committed to investing in its young people’s future. The National Sports Plan is currently investing $500 million annually into sports development and participation programmes and a further $2.5 billion government investment will deliver 693 sports facilities and 25 new stadia across Turkey by 2014. This huge investment will continue irrespective of the Games outcome.

Arat added

Getting more young people than ever before in Turkey to participate in sport is a key priority of our bid. Istanbul 2020 will stimulate a dramatic increase in mass sports participation by creating a generation of Olympic and Paralympic heroes for our youth to follow. Our meticulously planned venue strategy will guarantee that world-class sports facilities are available at no or low cost for the community post-Games, ensuring that our youth continue to play and stay in sport.

Istanbul 2020’s campaign theme is History in the Making. Its delegation for the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires will be headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan will be joined by Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey for Economic and Financial Affairs, Ali Babacan, the Minister for Youth and Sport, Suat Kılıç, and the Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbaş.

They will bolster a strong Istanbul 2020 Bid Committee led by IOC member and President of the Turkish National Olympic Committee and World Archery Federation, Professor Uğur Erdener, and Istanbul 2020 Bid Chairman, Hasan Arat. The delegation will also include Istanbul 2020 CEO, Ali Kiremitçioğlu, Istanbul 2020 Sports Director, Alp Berker, Turkish NOC Secretary General, Neşe Gündoğan.

Hasan Arat said:

History in the making was a natural choice as the theme for the last days of our campaign. Istanbul 2020 offers the Olympic Movement a number of historic firsts: the first Games in Turkey; the first Games staged across two continents simultaneously; the first Games in a nation where nearly half the population is under-25. By choosing Istanbul 2020, the IOC will be choosing to make history.

Bid sponsor, Turkish Airlines is helping to make an Istanbul 2020 Games one of the most accessible by air ever, following the news that the direct flight from Istanbul to Kathmandu, launching in the next few weeks, will make Nepal the 108th country on the Turkish Airlines network. Turkish Airlines can already offer direct flights to Istanbul to more than 50% of the 204 nations who participated at London 2012, and that proportion is set to increase over the next seven years. Olympic Family members from countries not served directly by Turkish Airlines will be able to travel to Istanbul on one of over 120 other international airlines that fly into the city’s Atatürk International Airport. As a result, Istanbul 2020 is well placed to ensure the comfort of all Olympic client groups and help optimise athlete performance ahead of training camps and competition.

Ali Kiremitçioğlu, Istanbul 2020 CEO, said:

Istanbul’s location at the crossroads of three continents maximises connectivity for the Olympic Family. Istanbul is the fifth most visited city in the world, with 12 million visitors visiting annually, so it is important that we as a city are globally accessible in order to meet the international demand. If we are awarded the honour of hosting the Games in 2020, we will welcome hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world and the majority of these visitors will be able to fly directly from their home country to Istanbul.

Istanbul offers unrivalled athlete experience as 2020 decision approaches

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The delegations from Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo are now gathered in Buenos Aires to receive the decision of the IOC on 7 September.

Istanbul 2020 has promised athletes an unrivalled Olympic and Paralympic Games experience that places them at the centre of its iconic hosting concept. Istanbul 2020’s plans also offer athletes reserved seats in the stands at the Opening Ceremony so, for the first time in Olympic history, they can play a full part as the stars of the show and as spectators.

Speaking at a press briefing for the international media in Buenos Aires, Professor Uğur Erdener, IOC member and President of the Turkish NOC, said:

Right from the planning stage, Istanbul 2020 has sought to weave the city’s natural and architectural beauty into its hosting concept at all 37 Games venues. If Istanbul 2020 wins the right to host the Games in 2020, athletes will truly feel part of the city they are competing in, and part of an historic Olympic and Paralympic Games. I have no doubt this will inspire them to achieve the greatest athletic feats. Imagine being a marathon runner crossing continents over the Bosphorus Bridge, a triathlete racing alongside Istanbul’s 2,500 year-old city walls or a volleyball player spiking for the match with the Bosphorus at your back.

Istanbul has hosted more than 40 major sporting events over the past seven years and the response we have had from athletes is always the same: ‘we would love to compete in a Games here.’ Istanbul has that magic athletes thrive on and they will be at the centre of the greatest stage in 2020.

Istanbul 2020’s inspirational offering to athletes is reinforced by the most comprehensive support solution for athletes, NOCs and NPCs. Istanbul 2020 will have an Olympic Training Precinct and a free-to-use Athlete Recovery Centre available for all athletes within walking distance of the Olympic Village — an Olympic first.

Gizem Girişmen, who won Paralympic gold in archery at Beijing 2008, said:

We have a robust plan because we have listened to NOCs. We have addressed their concerns raised from previous Games and we will deliver the most comprehensive NOC solution and support package. Athletes spend around 80 per cent of their time in the Olympic Village or at training venues, so we have focused on placing facilities on their doorstep. Training venues for 22 sports will be within 15 minutes of the Athletes’ Village. The average journey time from Village to competition venues will be just 16 minutes.

Çağla Büyükakçay, Turkey’s number one female tennis player, said:

Istanbul 2020 will give athletes everything they need to compete at the highest possible level. With access to such great facilities in close proximity, athletes will be able to focus on doing what they do best. The welfare and performance of all sportsmen and women – whatever flag they are competing under – has been at the centre of all Istanbul 2020 planning from day one.

Alignment is key to Istanbul delivery success

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Istanbul 2020 has pledged to offer the Olympic Movement the benefits of a new market without any of the potential risks, thanks to a Games Plan in total alignment with Turkey’s transformative 2023 Master Plan.

Istanbul 2020’s budget has the lowest expenditure on dedicated Olympic construction projects. Only $1.1 billion of the non-OCOG infrastructure budget will be spent on capital works specifically for the Games – the remaining 93% will be spent irrespective of the outcome of the bid on development projects relating to the 2023 Master Plan.

The 2023 Master Plan is the Turkish government’s national development blueprint: a far-reaching strategy aimed at ensuring the country’s remarkable economic growth over the last decade is translated into a tangible improvement in quality of life for its citizens. Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Games is totally aligned with the 2023 Master Plan, minimising incremental expenditure, maximising legacy yield and guaranteeing delivery certainty.

Speaking from Buenos Aires ahead of the 125th IOC Session, Istanbul 2020 Bid Chairman, Hasan Arat, said:

Istanbul 2020’s Games concept is founded on Turkey’s 2023 Master Plan and they are completely aligned. The demands of hosting the Games fit perfectly with the immediate needs and the long-term vision of the city. Istanbul needs a modern, high-capacity transport network; that network will guarantee quick and convenient travel at Games time. Istanbul needs new sports facilities; those facilities will deliver great sporting moments in 2020. Istanbul needs something to harness the huge appetite and capacity for development in the country right now; preparing to host the Games for the first time will align all our talent and resources behind a shared goal. Istanbul 2020 will have the full power of the Turkish nation behind it – we will show the world the powerful Games platform and lasting legacies created when the Games and city plans are truly aligned.

Our 2020 Games concept has been designed to leverage and reinforce Istanbul’s long-term planning objectives that are set out in the 2023 Master Plan. As a result, 93% of the spending identified in our non-OCOG infrastructure budget is already underway or planned as part of Istanbul’s ongoing development. Despite the transformative effect hosting the Games will have on our city, Istanbul 2020 actually has one of the smallest incremental expenditure budgets of recent times.

Key highlights of the 2023 Master Plan include:

  • Target growth of Turkey’s GDP to $2 trillion and becoming a world top-10 economy by 2023
  • Construction of a third Istanbul airport
  • Comprehensive upgrade of Istanbul’s city transport led by new, extended and enhanced Metro network, three new Bosphorus crossings, and extensive augmentation of heavy rail, motorway, metrobus and tram services
  • Housing and community development with TOKI, state agency responsible for Istanbul 2020 construction, delivering 60,000 new houses nationwide every year
  • Redevelopment of the iconic Haydarpaşa port – returning the shores of the Bosphorus back to the people of Istanbul
  • $500 million annual investment in sports participation and development programmes, supplemented by an additional $2.5 billion investment to build 693 new community sports facilities and 25 stadia
  • Establishment or restoration of green areas, with forest areas increased up to 23.3 million hectares (30% of Turkey’s land mass), National Parks increased to 50 million hectares and Natural Parks increased to 55 million hectares by 2023
  • Public transport in Istanbul made 100% accessible by 2015.

2020 Games in Istanbul would benefit from 48.5 million international tourists

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A huge visitor increase is set to enhance an Istanbul Games through increased ticket, licensed product and merchandising sales, and increased attendance at live sites and other events such as the Opening Ceremony, claims the Istanbul 2020 bid team.

The Opening Ceremony would already have the largest live audience in Olympic history with 70,000 people in the Bosphorus Stadium and half a million people along the banks of the strait.

The latest update to Turkey’s 2023 Master Plan anticipates a rise in international tourism from 33 million in 2012 to approximately 48.5 million by 2020.

Istanbul 2020 partner Turkish Airlines is already feeling the effect of the tourist boom through a 26% increase in passengers carried in the first half of this year. The company aims to expand its fleet from 228 aircraft today to 415 aircraft by the 2020 Games.

Ali Kiremitçioğlu, Istanbul 2020 CEO, said:

These latest figures on tourism and from Turkish Airlines prove that Turkey continues to be a growth market ready to welcome the world for an extraordinary Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.

Istanbul has the infrastructure and the capacity to ensure that the Olympic Family and the millions of international visitors will enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience during the Games in 2020.

Istanbul offers the Olympics an established tourist destination.

Istanbul offers the Olympics an established tourist destination.

“Unique and of a high quality” says IOC report on Istanbul’s 2020 bid

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The IOC Evaluation Commission report on Istanbul’s bid to host the city’s first ever Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 has been published and it states that Istanbul 2020’s proposed Games plan is “unique and of a high quality”. Istanbul 2020 Bid Chairman Hasan Arat said:

The report has highlighted many of our key assets, in particular, our robust and proven delivery solution and the significant Government, private sector and general public support for the Games. In fact the IOC Survey found that 83% of Istanbul residents (c.11 million people) want the Games, and Istanbul 2020’s latest independent survey found that 94% of Turkey’s population want the Games.

Ugur Erdener, IOC member and President of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey.

Ugur Erdener, IOC member and President of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey.

IOC member, President of the Turkish National Olympic Committee, and President of the World Archery Federation, Professor Uğur Erdener said:

As someone heading up an NOC and an International Federation, I am delighted with this report from the IOC Evaluation Commission. They clearly have realised that we offer unique and compelling solutions for all different Games client groups and can stage a Games that will benefit the wider Olympic Movement.

Our plan will engage people in Olympic and Paralympic sport and will ensure knowledgeable spectators for all sports, filling the stadia and creating a fantastic atmosphere in spectacular world-class venues.

This report comes out at a time when Turkey is hosting multiple international sports events. The Mediterranean Games in Mersin, for example, is real-time proof that the IOC can put their faith in Turkey to deliver world-class sporting events.

In particular, the report acknowledges Istanbul’s Games Concept and Master Plan which balances compactness with logistical utility and imaginatively activates strategic locations across the city. The IOC noted that Istanbul’s plans are fully aligned with the long-term needs of the city with a robust delivery solution already in place. The IOC Commission stated that it was: “…confident that given the government’s full support and the proven track- record of TOKI [State agency for construction] to date, construction works could be funded and completed on time, in line with construction best-practices and standards and would meet Games requirements”.

The Evaluation Commission report has made it clear that Istanbul 2020 along with their competitors have presented projects “which are all of an extremely high level and demonstrate detailed planning and comprehensive strategies in technical and operational matters, as well as many other areas including sustainability, the environment, legacy (both for the 2020 Games and for the bid itself), accessibility and integrated city development.”

Arat said: “That the report has endorsed so much of the Istanbul 2020 Games Plan is indeed very gratifying and we know that we are at least on an equal footing with others in this race.

These and other assets guarantee the Olympic Movement a unique partnership with Istanbul and the surrounding region, not just for 2020, but for generations thereafter. The feedback we have received today has provided us with a timely boost ahead of our presentation to the IOC members in Lausanne next week and as we move into the final 11 weeks before the IOC Session in Buenos Aires on 7 September.

Ambition meets capacity in Istanbul

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In a presentation to SportAccord 2013 delegates in St. Petersburg, Istanbul 2020 reaffirmed the bid’s guarantee of a risk-free, technically excellent Olympic and Paralympic Games that delivers profound, sustainable change to the region and a wealth of opportunities to the Olympic Movement.

Speaking 100 days before the International Olympic Committee’s decision on the host city of the 2020 Games, Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports, Suat Kılıç; Istanbul 2020 Chairman, Hasan Arat; President of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey, Professor Uğur Erdener; and Olympian and volleyball star, Neslihan Darnel, addressed the delegates and media at SportAccord.

Turkish Minister of Youth and Sports, Suat Kılıç, highlighted the Turkish government’s unequivocal commitment to Istanbul 2020:

As the representative of our Prime Minister and the government, I can assure you that hosting the Games in 2020 is a key part of a broad strategic agenda for Turkey. Turkey has totally transformed since its last bid. We now really understand what it means to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We are ready to step onto the global stage and welcome the world as we have for millennia. But now, to a new Turkey.

Our commitment to successful sport, to successful Games, is embedded in our Olympic Law which mandates full government support and already establishes our Games delivery structure. Enacted in 1992, this legislation guarantees the success of the Games. Not just words on paper, but a solid foundation that is backed by our government 100 percent.

Hasan Arat, Chairman of Istanbul 2020, said:

In the past, Turkey bid for the Games as an emerging nation. This time, Turkey is bidding as an emerged nation. We have aligned the needs of Istanbul with the needs of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Our city needs more transportation infrastructure, and we are building it. Our urban population needs more sports facilities, and we are developing them. Our young people need more role models, and the Games offer them.

Today, ambition meets capacity in Istanbul. By bringing the Olympic and Paralympic Games to Istanbul in 2020, the Olympic Movement will open a gateway – not just to a new region, but to a new culture. Istanbul offers a bridge to bring the world’s humanity together.


Istanbul includes improved public transport in its bid.

Istanbul includes improved public transport in its bid.

Turkish Airlines widens sports sponsorship

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The Istanbul 2020 commercial partner, Turkish Airlines, has signed a three-year partnership with UEFA Champions League finalists, Borussia Dortmund, continuing the global brand’s association with international sporting excellence. The airline is the official event airline for Stadia & Arena 2013 taking place in Istanbul 21-23 May.

The airline recently announced a deal to buy 95 new Boeing planes over the next eight years to help service its 200-plus worldwide destinations. News of a third airport planned for Istanbul adds to the city’s infrastructure credibility when bidding to hold the 2020 Games.

Other Turkish Airlines sponsorships include Primary sponsor of Turkish Airlines Euroleague basketball, Official sponsor of 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey, Official Airline of FC Barcelona and Manchester United.

Hasan Arat, Chairman of Istanbul 2020, said:

This shows that Turkey’s thriving private sector is already having a positive impact on sport around the world. I am so proud that one of our key commercial partners, a Turkish company, is involved in so many markets and so many different sporting events. This is not unique to Turkish Airlines; I fully expect to see further Turkish sponsors emerge in world sport over the next few years and I am sure that this will accelerate if Istanbul is elected as Olympic host city for 2020.

Istanbul 2020 works on sport for all

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Istanbul 2020 has been on the road to put the city’s case to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Meanwhile Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set up an easy to use online visa issuing service for business and tourist visitors.

Istanbul 2020’s senior bid leadership has been in Lima for the 15th IOC World Conference on Sport for All, stating that Turkey’s first ever Olympic and Paralympic Games will be the catalyst for a huge rise in mass sport participation, particularly among the nation’s 31 million young people under the age of 25.

The Istanbul 2020 Chairman, Hasan Arat said:

Istanbul 2020 can be a bridge to an historic impact for the Olympic Movement and the young people of Turkey. Nearly 50% of Turkey’s population is under 25 and we produce around 700,000 university graduates every year. Our Games will provide them with a generation of opportunities across the sports sector, and they are ready to take up the baton for the Olympic Movement. An Olympic and Paralympic Games in Istanbul in 2020 really will mean, Sport for All.

The Istanbul 2020 delegation was seeking to share best practices to support the National Sports Plan: a wide-ranging, transformative government programme that provides for an investment of $500 million annually in sports participation and development through low- or no-cost activities. This is being complemented by a $1.77 billion government investment that will deliver 415 accessible, high-quality community and elite-level sports facilities and 24 new stadiums across Turkey by 2014.

A delegation also recently visited the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). In a speech, IPC President Xavier Gonzales expressed his belief in Turkey’s capability to successfully deliver the Games if awarded the rights.

Mehmet Baykan, General Director of Sports, stated that the preparations were proceeding step-by-step and said

We had previously submitted our Bid Book to the authorities. Today we submitted it to the IPC. We have major goals in realizing Istanbul 2020 and we are making great preparations in this regard. It is a great pleasure to be here on behalf of our country. We learned from this meeting that İstanbul has a very distinct position in terms of Paralympic Committee.

Timsah Arena is one of the many new stadiums in development and construction in Turkey. Photo credit: Bursaspor.

Timsah Arena is one of the many new stadiums in development and construction in Turkey. Photo credit: Bursaspor.

Easier travel to Turkey with online visa

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Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set up an easy to use online visa issuing service. Business and tourist visitors to Turkey can enter their details and pay the visa fee by credit card before printing out the visa on a home printer.

The e-Visa replaces the ‘sticker visa’ issued at the borders. Speaking at the launch press conference, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu emphasised that e-Visa is a revolutionary application and there is no other country which is implementing this system on the scale that Turkey is implementing it.

Delegates planning to visit the Stadia & Arena conference in Istanbul in May have already reported that the online application is very straightforward to use.

Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said that the system will increase the productivity of Turkish businessmen by facilitating the travel of other countries’ businessmen to Turkey. It is expected that 7.5 million foreigners will travel to Turkey with the e-Visa per year.

Visit to make an e-Visa application or to get further information.