POSTED: January 27th 2012

Ugur Erdener thinks the tourism and the economy are right this time for Istanbul 2020

Ugur Erdener feels this is the right moment for Istanbul - fifth time charm? / IOC Richard Juilliart
Ugur Erdener feels this is the right moment for Istanbul - fifth time charm? / IOC Richard Juilliart

The Bosphorus River connects Europe and Asia with a touch of Africa / Turkish Culture and Tourism Office-Washington D.C.
The Bosphorus River connects Europe and Asia with a touch of Africa / Turkish Culture and Tourism Office-Washington D.C.

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

LAUSANNE/INNSBRUCK: had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Ugur Erdener to get some fresh details on the 2020 Istanbul bid and the growing tourism market in Turkey.

Erdener is also an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, President of the World Archery Federation and President of the Turkish National Olympic Committee.

The last time the city bid was for 2012 and he is very passionate about the  developments that have taken place and the economic growth that the country is experiencing.

What is new about this 2020 bid for Istanbul?

UGUR ERDENER: This time everything is different with this new Istanbul bid, as you know we lost four times in the past. But we learned many things and learned from some important experiences with our bid activities and now I think we will have a well prepared applicant file for the IOC.

In the middle of February we will deliver the applicant file to the IOC and 50-60 people are working on this now. They had many meetings with the ministries, the mayor’s office, some of our important athletes and everyone and this time we will have a very well prepared applicant file.

Another issue is that we think that 2020 is the right time for Istanbul because Turkey has a strong economy and it is fastest growing around the world after China. It is the fastest growing in Europe and this time we have 100% government support.

In August on the 13th the Prime Minister declared the bid with a press conference and he gave us his support for all aspects.  Our President Abdullah Gül supports Istanbul’s bid very strongly and this is very good for us.

Turkey has a big population of approximately 73 million people, and half of them are under 25 years of age so we believe that it will be an important legacy if Istanbul hosts 2020.

Another issue is that we have very important transportation projects. Every year for the past seven years our government and municipality have spent US$1.2 billion for transportation projects in Istanbul and this is another important issue. Again if we organize the Olympic Games in 2020 in Istanbul we believe that it will be an important step for Turkish sports.

As I mentioned we have a very young population and still we need some important grassroots projects for them. Unfortunately we don’t have enough success, for instance for the London Games, in my personal opinion, we don’t have enough qualified athletes.

How many are on the Turkish team for London 2012?

UGUR ERDENER: We have around 55 -60 and no participants in team sports and this is another important issue for us.

The Golden Door of Athletics will be held in Istanbul in a very new indoor athletics arena that was built in only 15 months for this championship. It will be ready end of the month for the national championships.

At the moment I can’t divulge too many details about the bid until we submit the questionnaire.

Olympic Park and the Olympic Village and most of the venues will be in the same location. Most of our competition venues will be ready in a few years.

At least half of the venues are ready now, Olympic stadium we need some renovations according to our new project, now we have a big indoor arena for 15,000 spectators.

Basketball and volleyball venues are ready now, we will have an important transportation plan as we feel that this was one of our weaknesses in the past.

But we have many new projects and the government supports this very much.

The last time you bid was for 2012, what has changed since then?

UGUR ERDENER: That time according to the IOC evaluation report, Istanbul had 26,000 hotel rooms at this moment there are 63,000 and we project in 2020 there will be more than 96,000 rooms. This is because Istanbul is one of the most important touristic cities around the world.

How has the tourism industry grown since the last bid?

UGUR ERDENER: There is a really important tourism industry in Istanbul because it is an important junction and generally people say that there are two continents that meet at Istanbul.

But our Prime Minister during his press conference noted that there are three continents meet at Istanbul: Europe, Asia and Africa.

How does Africa figure in?

UGUR ERDENER: Because of the Middle East which is also a part of Africa. There is a melting pot of cultures and this time we will have very organized cultural and educational programs especially for the young generations. It is also important for 2020.

You also have very strong beach tourism in the southern areas?

UGUR ERDENER: Especially our Mediterranean coast only in Antalya in the same region today we have around 400,000 hotel rooms.  There are a lot of 5 star hotels plus holiday villages. In the same location it takes 25 minutes by car or bus to the Belek airport.

There are 20 high level golf courses in the same location and around the courses there are 25-30 very high level luxury resort hotels.

Another strong point for our tourism is Turkish Airlines and they have over 190 destinations all around the world. According to this they have the 7th position in the world and 3rd position in Europe.

Istanbul is a center pole as you can fly in about ten hours to the States, Rio, Cape Town, Bangkok, Singapore, and Tokyo. It is easy to get to Istanbul from everywhere in the world.

Istanbul is running against three other European cities: Baku, Madrid, and Rome and two Asian cities: Doha and Tokyo. The final vote will take place September 7th 2013 in Buenos Aires at the IOC session.

Keywords · Istanbul 2020 · Ugur Erdener · Olympic Games

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