Thursday March 7, 2013
Istanbul’s Olympic bid boosted by historic agreement
ISTANBUL: Istanbul’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games received a huge psychological boost on Tuesday as it was revealed that bitter historical foes Greece had pledged their full support to the Turkish city’s candidacy.
Antonis Samaras, the Prime Minister of Greece — the birthplace of the ancient Games and host twice of the modern ones in Athens — and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed the agreement after meetings on Sunday and Monday.
The agreement was one of more than 20 signed at the summit, which was aimed at boosting bilateral relations across sectors like tourism, energy and telecommunications.
Ankara and Athens have had an uneasy relationship for several decades, particularly due to disagreements over the divided island of Cyprus, as well as territorial disputes in the Aegean and East Mediterranean.
But a joint declaration committed both countries to “engage in cooperation with regard to the technical and related aspects in the organisation of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games”.
Istanbul is up against Tokyo and Madrid to host the 2020 Games. A decision will be made at an International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Buenos Aires in September.
The chairman of the Istanbul 2020 Bid Committee, Hasan Arat, attended the signing ceremony in Istanbul, along with a number of senior ministers and business leaders from Turkey and Greece.
“The ties between Turkey and Greece have been strengthened today, thanks to the power of the Olympic Movement to build bridges,” said Arat, who is fronting what is regarded as easily the most potent of Istanbul’s five bids for the Games.
For Tokyo, its transport networks would easily be good enough to host the 2020 Olympics, an expert said on Wednesday, pledging no new roadbuilding if Japan win the event.
“We won’t build anything in particular for the Olympics,” Takayuki Kishii, a professor of engineering at Tokyo’s Nihon University said after briefing an IOC team who are scrutinising bids by Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul for the 2020 event. — AFP