Turkey’s President, Abdullah Gül, personally welcomed the IOC Evaluation Commission this morning (Sunday, March 24, 2013) on the first official day of the Evaluation Commission visit to Istanbul.
The President attended the opening introductory session and warmly welcomed the 14- member Commission, headed by Sir Craig Reedie. President Gül was joined for this opening session by Turkey’s Sports Minister, Suat Kılıç; Chairman of the Istanbul 2020 Bid Committee, Hasan Arat; IOC member and President of the National Olympic Committee of Turkey, Professor Ugur Erdener; Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topbaş; Turkish volleyball player, Neslihan Darnel; and other senior people representing the stakeholders of the Istanbul 2020 bid.
President Gül addressed the IOC. Below are some of the quotes from his opening remarks:
“Turkey is known for many things, but one thing I hope you have experienced by now is our warm Turkish hospitality. We share our homes, our lives and our city with open arms to the world. Our people are ready to welcome the Games.
“We are a proud nation. We are a welcoming nation. We are a nation built on international trade and on commitments kept. When the eyes of the world are on Turkey, we will keep our promises. As you hear the presentations and see the venues, I hope you will remember these words: the Turkish government, and Prime Minister Erdogan, personally, are totally committed to Istanbul’s bid and to delivering everything we promised in our candidature. We have a history of delivering on our promises, and we will deliver on our commitment to you. The Olympic spirit already lives in the heart of the Turkish people and their nation.
“This is the time for Turkey. We are ready as never before, as I hope you will see during the coming days. We welcome you into our home; we welcome you to Istanbul.”The next few days will allow the IOC Evaluation Commission the opportunity to visit Istanbul 2020’s proposed venues and hear the city’s plans for the Games while experiencing the nation’s famous hospitality.