By Jonathan Rest in Istanbul
Istanbul 2020, the Turkish city's bid to host the Olympic Games, has moved to reassure the International Olympic Committee that its substantial workload to deliver venues on time is easily manageable.
Istanbul’s infrastructure budget to host the 2020 Olympics is $19.2 billion, well above those of rival candidate cities Tokyo and Madrid, and the scale of work needed here has been likened to that required for the Sochi 2014 winter Olympics and Rio 2016 Olympics, where, respectively, the original budget has been significantly exceeded and delays to construction projects have been reported.
However, Istanbul 2020 is adamant that it is no Rio 2016, emphasising it has an Olympic delivery authority already set up and operational.
Ahmet Haluk Karabel, president of Toki, the existing Turkish national government agency responsible for construction, was brought into discussions with the visiting IOC evaluation commission today.
Toki will be the ODA should Istanbul be awarded the 2020 games this September.
Karabel said: “Toki is already responsible for a huge amount of construction and development throughout Turkey and Istanbul. We are the government delivery authority on social housing that has already built 570,000 homes. We will have built 1 million by 2023 [the centenary of the Turkish Republic.]
“If you take all the games’ venues, precincts, the Olympic Village and major non-competition facilities, including the IBC/MPC, the capital works budget for these projects is $4.8 billion.
“In the same period we at Toki will spend $20 billion on our usual projects. While this [the Olympic Games] is a significant undertaking and we recognise the need to fulfil so many responsibilities and meet strict deadlines, annually this project represents a relatively small increase beyond our normal levels.”
Karabel added that Toki has already established a games directorate within the firm, with strict reporting lines in place to enable construction projects to begin immediately should Istanbul be awarded the games.
Meanwhile, Ali Koç, board member of Turkey’s Koç Holding, the Fortune 500 industrial conglomerate, told the IOC evaluation commission today that the country’s largest organisations are ready and willing to sponsor an Olympic Games.
Addressing the commission on the theme of marketing, Koç said: “I am here today on behalf of the business community of Turkey to express our readiness to help one of the most important projects in Turkey’s history.
“Our business leaders see the Olympics as an incomparable opportunity to tell our story to the world, to rebrand Turkey, to demonstrate our growing capabilities and to compete with the best companies in the world. We are truly experiencing a dramatic transformation with a rapidly growing economy; with an expanded business mind set; with sophisticated city planning and with careful management of Turkey's cultural legacy.”
He continued: “Turkey is changing, Turkey is coming of age. Turkey is thinking big and thinking bold.”
Koç said that with Turkey’s economic power, firms now have “more reason to go beyond their borders to reach targets,” and that there is a “growing confidence to become Olympic partners.”
He added: “I hope the day will come where a Turkish company is sponsoring the Olympics or football’s World Cup.”
Istanbul is bidding against Madrid and Tokyo to stage the games, with the IOC due to select the host city in September.