If you’ve kept an ear to the ground with the latest developments in the world of sport, then you’ll know that Turkey’s capital Istanbul is putting itself forward as a possible host for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.
While it faces stiff competition from Madrid in Spain – a nation that hosted the 1992 Games in Barcelona – as well as 1964 host Tokyo, Istanbul will learn its fate in September, when the International Olympic Committee gets together for its 125th IOC Session to choose the successor to Rio de Janeiro.
The voting process has already eliminated Baku in Azerbaijan, as well as Doha in Qatar – already under fire for its controversial selection as the host of the World Cup in 2022. Rome, another former host, withdrew its intended application the day before it was to be submitted, owing to the financial difficulties it is facing in the modern economic climate. If organizers are looking for something a little different, then Istanbul would be an obvious choice – after all, it promotes the cultural and social harmony that the Olympic and Paralympic Games stand for.
You see, when you consider Istanbul’s place in both historical and geographic terms, it is a hub of equality, diversity and – as a result – individuality. The rising spires and buildings not only show a remarkable ethnic balance – from its celebrated and protected mosques to its Orthodox and progressive churches, as well as some synagogues – but also its rapid modernisation that still protects the heritage that attracts so many visitors each year.
It’s perfectly capable of dealing with visitors from all around the world through its network of airports (notably Istanbul Atatürk Airport), as well as by road and rail from its surroundings. As one of only four truly transcontinental cities in the world, Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus between Europe and Asia, making it easily accessible from road, rail and sea.
It also has a remarkable selection of hotels, from high-level luxury in the form of the KempinskiCiragan Palace – a converted stately home to Ottoman rulers in the 19th and 20th centuries – to other dependable and established chains such as the Hilton, Marriott and Crowne Plaza. While there’d undoubtedly be a cutting-edge Athletes’ Village being built if Istanbul gets the thumbs up, you can guarantee you’ll get a place for the night if you make the trip to Turkey.
With a wealth of shops, restaurants, bars and cafés just waiting for custom – and offering textbook warm hospitality that the country is known for – it’s worth making a trip to Istanbul regardless of whether or not its bid for the Olympics is successful. Check it out – you may just get the holiday you’ve always dreamt of.
Photo Credit By: projects.aegee.org