KEIR RADNEDGE in Budapest: “I’m sorry, please don’t ask me any question because I cannot give you any answers,” said Senes Erzik, Turkey’s senior figure within European federation UEFA, when approached over Istanbul’s crisis of success.
Istanbul is one of the three finalists in the 2020 Olympic Games beauty parade, along with Madrid and Tokyo, and the government insists this is the No1 national priority. On the other hand, it was the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Erdogan, who stood up at UEFA Congress earlier this spring and said the country wanted to host the European football finals in 2020.
Deciding where their priority really lies was an issue which had been put on ice while the Turks and the rest awaited the verdict of the IOC board in Quebec on the final Olympics contenders. One certainty is they cannot expect to host both in the same year.
Now the issue will resurface because IOC members – arrogant or not – will certainly want to see the Turks displaying full-on commitment to their particular event.
Picking up that theme, bid leader Hasan Arat said: “We are delighted that the [technical committee] report recognises that Turkey’s government and its people have demonstrated a commitment to hosting the Games over many years . . . now the Olympic family should be in no doubt: Turkey wants the Games, and we are better placed than ever to realise our dream.”
One intriguing factor concerns the possibility of Euro 2020 being the Turks’ fallback position. The Euro 2020 decision will not be taken until four or even six months after the IOC votes in Buenoes Aires in September next year.
UEFA president Michel Platini has assured the Turks of his support if Istanbul loses out in the Olympic race. He reiterated here, on the eve of FIFA Congress, that if they lose out on the Games tehn “I will will support Turkey, I will vote for Turkey.”
Given Platini’s views, based partly on the fact that the Turks lost out by only one vote to France for 2016, it is no surprise that there is little competition for Euro 2020. Scotland, Wales and Ireland are considering a co-hosting bid but it would be offered long odds.
It is now the Turks who are masters of their destiny.
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