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Olympics-Turkish PM to head Games bid delegation

Reuters

Sept 2 (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will lead Istanbul's delegation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as it bids to land the 2020 summer Olympics.

The IOC will vote on the location of the world's biggest and most expensive multi-sport event at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sept. 7.

Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo, who previously held the games in 1964, are the three cities bidding for the rights to succeed 2016 Rio de Janeiro as the next summer Games hosts.

Should it win, Istanbul will be the first country with a Muslim majority to get the Olympics, and the first to take place on two continents - the European and Asian parts of the metropolis.

"We are delighted that we will have the Prime Minister and other senior Turkish government officials with us in Buenos Aires," bid chairman Hasan Arat said in a statement.

"Istanbul 2020 has enjoyed full government support from the very moment the Prime Minister personally launched our bid over two years ago."

The IOC report on Istanbul praised the government backing, wide public support and its capability to deliver construction for the Games on time with a massive projected infrastructure budget of $19.2 billion, including building legacy projects.

But the bid has been undermined by a series of blows in recent months. Anti-government protests have rocked Turkey, doping bans have been slapped on dozens of its athletes and turmoil in the Middle East is deepening with the prospect of U.S.-led military intervention against neighbouring Syria. (Reporting by Josh Reich; editing by Justin Palmer)

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