Swimming legend Mark Spitz backs Istanbul Games bid

Updated: 17 July 2012 09:22 IST

Olympic swimming legend Mark Spitz has given his backing to Istanbul's bid to host the 2020 Summer Games.

Swimming legend Mark Spitz backs Istanbul Games bid
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Istanbul:

Olympic swimming legend Mark Spitz has given his backing to Istanbul's bid to host the 2020 Summer Games.

The 62-year-old - a winner of nine Olympic gold medals in all and with seven coming at the 1972 edition in Munich - was speaking on Sunday after he had braved racing 6.5km across the Bosphorus.

Spitz, who also presented medals after the race, commented on how the organisational ability shown by the city bodes well for hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020:

"Considering how much work will be required to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the organisational ability shown during this race highlights the promise of Istanbul. I am here to lend my support to Turkey."

Spitz, who also won Olympic silver and bronze, said that should Istanbul win it would be terrific for the largely young population.

"Turkey has never hosted the Games before, but it has a real chance of being selected for 2020. The 2020 Games offer a great opportunity for this country's young population."

Hasan Arat, a former top basketball player and now leader of the Istanbul 2020 Bid Committee, said it was a huge boost to get such backing from such a figure, even though he is not an IOC member and will not be voting when the decision is taken in Buenos Aires in September next year.

"When a bid city gets a powerful message of support from one of the most iconic athletes in the history of the Games, it really means something," said Arat.

"We do not take it for granted.

"The people of Turkey are greatly heartened by this show of support from Mark Spitz. I believe yesterday's race shows the sporting world that Istanbul acts as a bridge between tradition and innovation."

Istanbul made the short list for the final vote along with Madrid, second to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 renewal, and Tokyo, the only one of the three candidates to have hosted the Games before, in 1964.

Topics : Swimming Olympics 2012
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