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Istanbul remain defiant in Games race

Istanbul are not just here to make up the numbers in the race to host the 2020 Olympic Games but to win said one of the leading members of the bid team Hasan Arat on Tuesday.

Arat, who could well become bid leader if Istanbul are selected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday to go on the short list, cast a defiant front in the light of Turkey also bidding for the Euro 2020 football championship.

The IOC does not allow under its rules two major sporting events to be hosted by the same host in the same year.

However, Arat, a former top basketball player, insisted that Turkey's priority was the Games despite Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan being a former footballer and an ardent football fan.

"For Turkey, hosting the Games has always been the ultimate prize," said Arat.

"Every level of government is right behind us, from the Prime Minister, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right through to the municipal authorities. We have the full support of the sports and business communities, and we have 87% public support the people of Turkey want the Games.

"Turkey has never been more serious about hosting the Games, and we have never been more ready to host the Games." Arat said it was time to set the record straight after four fairly weak prior bids by Istanbul and bring the Games to the city that links the two continents of Europe and Asia.

"It is an exciting time for our country. We have had a decade of remarkable economic and social development, and now we are better placed than ever to realise our Olympic dream. The time is right for Istanbul. AFP

 

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