Istanbul Awaits The 2020 Olympics

Istanbul is a city like none other in the world. And now this hospitable city that combines a modern face with an historic cultural heritage spanning europe and asia is looking forward to the 2020 olympics with excitement and confidence.

 Istanbul, a city where the Olympic values of friendship, respect and perfection have existed for centuries. Different faiths and communities have co-existed here in mutual respect for millennia, in a city that is home to the some of the world’s finest examples of art, architecture and literature.

All over the city today one can see and experience the Olympic values in every aspect of everyday life. The Paralympic values of determination, courage, equality and inspiration are ingrained in the soul of Istanbul, in a way not seen in any other city in the world.

The spirit of sport and sportsmanship was always there, even in Istanbul’s ancient past. Famous for its gladiatorial contests and chariot racing in Byzantine times, the Hippodrome was renamed the At Meydanı by the Ottomans, in a literal translation of the Latin, and used for jereed, a traditional Turkish sport played by teams of horsemen with javelins. Teams known as the Blues and the Greens competed fiercely in the Byzantine period, and the tradition continued unbroken in the Ottoman era as well. In another example, the original of the Archers’ Code, framed in 1682, is preserved today in Topkapı Palace Museum. These and many other details remind us that Istanbul has always been closely associated with sports, even in antiquity.

Turkish Airlines flies between its Istanbul hub at the intersection of three continents and 219 cities in 98 of the world’s countries, and it is planning to open 35 more routes in this year alone. The city’s central location and Turkish Airlines’ broad flight network mean that athletes and spectators alike will have easy access to the 2020 Olympic Games.

But Istanbul is primed to host the Olympics in terms not just of its past but of its present as well. An international financial hub and headquarters of global firms, Istanbul, which is also a leading international capital of art and culture, has begun staging sports events in recent years. What’s more, this development is not limited to Istanbul, as is evidenced by the major international competitions that are now taking place in various provinces around the country. To recount them briefly: the FIBA World Basketball Championship, the European Youth Olympic Games, the WTA Women’s Tennis Championships, the IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championship, the UEFA Finals, and the FINA World Championship are the first that spring to mind, and some of them were staged in Istanbul. Such major competitions, which bring together hundreds of athletes, are followed both at home and abroad as successful events that demonstrate Turkey’s capacity and knowhow in the field. And interest is continuing with major sports events like the 2013 Mediterranean Games and the 2014 World Women’s Basketball Championship already on the calendar.

Inner city transport has undergone remarkable development in recent years thanks to investment. When completed, new projects like a rail system, a metro and a light rail network will ease transport all over the city.

Why Istanbul?
Seeing Istanbul with one’s own eyes is explanation enough for why the city is a candidate for the Olympics.

Situated at the intersection of three continents, Istanbul is served by Turkish Airlines, which has flights to 219 cities, giving athletes and spectators alike easy access to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Not only that, the city’s existing infrastructure is also being complemented by several projects already under way from a metro to a new airport.

At the same time, inner city transport has undergone remarkable development in recent years thanks to investment. When completed, new projects like a rail system, a metro and a light rail network will ease transport all over the city. After watching beach volleyball matches on the Asian side in the morning and rugby matches on the European side in the afternoon, sports fans will be able to enjoy a fabulous evening on the Bosphorus. Istanbul 2020 will also offer the biggest opening ceremony in Olympics history when close to half a million spectators will gather on both sides of the Bosphorus to join the 70,000 in Bosphorus Stadium. And all this transportation and event planning is being coordinated in one-on-one harmony with the Istanbul macro city plan.

Increasing its tourist numbers by 15 percent last year to become the fifth most visited city in the world, Istanbul offers the pleasures of sports as well as life with its over 9,300 historic sites, hundreds of accommodation choices, and unsurpassed examples of world cuisine.

Infrastructure and sustaInability
When it comes to the need for Olympic facilities, there is no doubt about Turkey’s ability to complete them without difficulty.

The Olympic Stadium, TT Arena Stadium, Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, İnönü Stadium and a major portion of the facilities construction of which is almost complete are all at world standards. A fully-equipped Olympic Park project is also being planned which will include tennis complexes, a velodrome, and an ‘Aquatic Center’ with swimming pools.

All these are initiatives that will train athletes for Turkey while also ensuring that international events come to Istanbul, because Istanbul is such a magnet that it can influence not only its own area but the wider region as well. An Olympics held in Istanbul at the crossroads of Europe, Western Asia and the Middle East will attract interest and spectators not only from Turkey but from many other parts in the world. And since the facilities being built for the Olympics can be used later for events on a regional and global scale, they promise unique sustainability. Half of Turkey’s population is under the age of 25, and the under-20 population numbers around 20 million. These figures, which indicate the percentage of young people with an interest in sports, gives a clue as to the future of the facilities! The time has come to inject Istanbul with the Olympic spirit and crown this ancient city capital of the modern world with the Games. Istanbul is ready for this, Istanbul wants this, Istanbul is eagerly awaiting the Olympics.

All transportation and event planning is being coordinated in one-on-one harmony with the İstanbul macro city plan.

Istanbul by Numbers
As it gears up for the 2020 Olympic Games, Istanbul is attracting attention for its unique qualities.

$ 1.500.000.000
The amount of annual investment in Istanbul’s transportation infrastructure

16 dk/min
Average transport time of athletes from the Olympic Village to the sports venues, with no journey taking more than 35 minutes

5.
Istanbul’s place among the world’s most visited tourist destinations

500.000
Number of spectators on both sides of the Bosphorus who will watch the Opening Ceremony

%5,2
Average annual economic growth between 2002 and 2011 - three and a half times the European average

WE ARE READY
We spoke with Istanbul 2020 Bid Committee Chairman Hasan Arat about Istanbul’s official candidacy. Here is what he told us:

What is Istanbul’s bidding strategy?
In 2012 we were focused on developing a compelling bid concept. This time have the right balance between a spectacular celebration and the perfect conditions for elite performance.

Now we have to share our vision. It’s an international campaign so we will be telling our story all over the world. We have a long road ahead, but we have a young, dynamic and talented team behind us. We are in a great position.

Can you describe your venue plan?
The Games in Istanbul will be hosted across four zones comprising seven clusters and five precincts. Of the 36 proposed venues, ten are already planned to meet pressing community, development level and elite training requirements. 11 are already in place and regularly hosting top-class sport and five will be temporary and fully demountable. We’ll build ten more permanent venues, driven by legacy objectives.

Will your Olympic venues be sustainable?
Istanbul 2020 will be a Games in harmony with the needs of the city, its people and its environment. The Olympic City will serve 600,000 people as a “live, work, play” community after the Games, reinvigorating grass roots sport and stimulating a dramatic increase in mass sport participation. Fully modernized and accessible transport infrastructure will make the city better connected for generations of citizens and visitors.

“In 2012 we were focused on developing a compelling bid concept. This time have the right balance between a spectacular celebration and the perfect conditions for elite performance.”