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Istanbul's bid crosses continents

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ISTANBUL, Turkey (Reuters) -- Istanbul styled itself as a "bridge between civilizations" when it presented its bid to stage the 2012 Summer Olympics on Friday.

Yalcin Aksoy, the head of the Turkish city's bidding committee, told Reuters that as Istanbul spanned two continents -- not only geographically but socially, culturally and religiously -- it was well placed to fulfil Olympic ideals.

"We believe only Istanbul gives a chance for the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to choose a location which will challenge that conflict and create an awareness of a bridge between civilizations, cultures and religions," he said.

Istanbul, which has a population of 10 million, said it would host all events and house all athletes in one village between two main clusters of venues on Istanbul's European shores.

"We have a good project, a very compact one and we'll be able to display all 28 sports in one city and in one village for the athletes," Aksoy said.

The commercial capital of predominantly Muslim Turkey is making its fourth consecutive bid to stage the Games.

Istanbul's three previous Olympic bids have ended in failure but the latest attempt is the product of 12 years of experience and is also backed by considerable state resources, officials said.

Istanbul is one of nine cities bidding to host the 2012 Summer Games. Other candidate cities also held presentations on Friday. Paris and London are the frontrunners.

The winning bid will be decided by an IOC vote in Singapore in July 2005.

Aksoy said Turkey's parliament might allocate up to around $1 billion for the organization of the 2012 Games. However, the bidding committee says it may not need that much.

"Our present calculations suggest that a two-fold increase of routine revenues ($400 million) will suffice to balance the Istanbul 2012 budget," he said.

As regards the bid costs, according to the city's bid document obtained by Reuters, the Istanbul Olympic Bidding Committee (IOBC) has budgeted $750,000 for its application phase and $5.25 million during its candidature.

Since its foundation in 1992, the IOBC has had a yearly average income of $28 million.

That implies minimum funds of around $196 million would be raised in the seven years from the election of the host city in 2005 to the Games themselves, the document added.

Other sources of income for the games budget included a share of TV rights, sponsorship, licensing revenues and income from ticket sales, which add up to around $2 billion.

The largest outlay so far has been the $126 million Olympic Stadium inaugurated in 2001. It also plans to build stadiums for swimming, cycling, tennis, hockey, baseball and softball.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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