The European Olympic Committees President Spyros Capralos had a positive conversation with the Mayor of Istanbul ahead of their General Assembly there, and said he would be honoured to give Istanbul the opportunity to bid for the Games.
Asked by The Sun journalist Rob Maul who the frontrunning cities are for the next edition in 2027, Capralos said “We are discussing with the National Olympic Committees who are interested. I cannot hide that we had a very pleasant conversation with Mayor of Istanbul. We are also in conversation with others."
Answering a question from Host City, Capralos confirmed that they were engaging with western European destinations, but there is a lack of interest from them in hosting the Games. “It takes two to tango. You can't force them if they don't want to do it," he said. "But if we don't have a candidate from western or northern countries it doesn’t mean that it is not a success."
He cited the success of the 2023 European Games in Poland in inspiring the nation to bid for the Olympic Games, and mentioned that Deloitte will present a study on the financial impact of this edition.
Hasan Arat, Vice President of the Turkish National Olympic Committee and Member of the EOC Executive Committee led Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. “Look at what has happened here over the last 20 years: the sports and city infrastructure is great; we have everything,” he said. “It is depending on the political leaders to decide if they want to do it. It is a great place to host such an event. This is important for my country and my people.”
Capralos highlighted that Games can be hosted without spending a lot of money. “There is no need to spend money on new facilities. If you (Istanbul) decide to go ahead we'd be honoured to give you this opportunity.”
He also revealed that the European Games could be hosted by more than one nation, citing the example of the European Olympic Festival in January, which was hosted by Italy but with some events taking place in Slovenia. “We do not object and we will be happy to see more countries working together,” he said.
The 2027 European Games will be the fourth edition, following three editions in the east of Europe. The multi-sport European Championships was successfully launched in Glasgow in 2018 followed by Munich 2022, with the host selection process underway for 2026.
“The European Games are not there to replace the European Championships,” said Capralos. They serve as the main event for qualifying athletes for the Olympic Games. It is a very important event, after the Olympic Games. We're not here to stop any other events.”
Other items on the EOC General Assembly agenda include governance improvements such launching the process of appointing a CEO.
Capralos also explained why Russian athletes were not allowed to compete in the 2023 Games, despite the fact that the IOC has paved the way for Russian athletes to participate in Paris 2024. “The decision was made after consulting with government of Poland. It was done for the safety of the athletes, as we could not guarantee the safety of athletes from Russia. We will continue following the IOC recommendations.”