KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: Craig Reedie and his Olympic checklist team will be told next month to dismiss any lingering concerns about the focus of Istanbul’s vision for 2020.
Last year uncertainty arose over the priorities of the Turkish sports family when Prime Minister Recep Erdogan appeared to want both the Olympics and football’s European Championship finals in the same summer.
But Olympic bid leader Hasan Arat insisted in London that football is “definitely off the agenda.”
He will be equally vehement when the IOC’s 2020 evaluation commission complete their three-city world tour next month by following up visits to rivals Tokyo and Madrid with four days in Istanbul between March 24 and 27.
Addressing a World Sports Congress conference, Arat said: “The Olympic bid is a national priority for Turkey, as it was confirmed by the prime minister, and the football bid was only talks between the Turkish football federation and the European federation, UEFA.
+++ Hasan Arat is confident that Istanbul 2020 can reassure the IOC about the football and basketball matchfixing scandals which attracted negative headlines last year. He said: “Our government took very strong measures so I don’t think this will be a problem for Turkey. There is zero tolerance now, very strict rules.” +++
“There was no official bid for that and, after our Prime Minister attended the Opening Ceremony of London 2012 I think this discussion was at an end because he said to [IOC president] Jacques Rogge: ‘The Olympic flame is in my heart, now I want to hold it.’
“So there will be no further discussion about the priority of Istanbul 2020.”
The world sports calendar assists Arat in his straight talk about the Olympic priority.
The IOC makes the 2020 decision on September 7,UEFA does not decide on its Euro venues until later in the autumn. If Istanbul loses in Buenos Aires then the Turkish football federation still has time to bid to join the football party instead.
Not that Europe’s football bosses might look too kindly on their own event being considered some sort of consolation prize.
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