Olympics-Istanbul 2020 bid unveils sponsorship deals worth $20 mln
BERLIN Jan 21 (Reuters) - Istanbul 2020 Olympic bid officials on Monday unveiled sponsorship deals worth $20 million with seven of Turkey's leading companies as they seek to pitch the country's growing economic clout as an asset for their candidacy.
Turkish airlines, Koc Holding and leading mobile phone operator Turkcell are among the companies who signed up to the bid, competing with Madrid and Tokyo for the 2020 summer Olympics.
"This is the largest private sector investment in any sports bid in Turkish history," bid leader Hasan Arat said in conference call with two international news agencies.
The list of sponsors also includes Uelker, Dogus Group , Digiturk and Sabanci Holding.
"It reflects Turkey's remarkable economic growth in the past five years."
With Spain's economy slumped in recession and the threat of a sovereign bailout still lingering and Japan struggling to stimulate growth and emerge from its own mild recession, Turkey is eager to highlight its solid growth.
The country's finance minister Mehmet Simsek said last week the economy grew around three percent last year, well below the heady pace of previous years.
A forecast supported by the World Bank predicted growth would rise to four percent in 2013.
"If you don't have a strong economy you cannot handle this operation (Olympics) because there is a huge amount of investment," said Arat.
"I think the economy and the appetite of the Turkish people is so important. This is the fifth bid of Turkey (in the last six campaigns). We learned a lot but this is a new bid for a new Turkey.
The International Olympic Committee will elect the host city in a vote in September in Buenos Aires. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Toby Davis)