By Duncan Mackay in London

November 10 - Istanbul today revealed that they plan to launch a bid for the 2020 Olympics, declaring that they believe the event will return to Europe after being held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Mehmet Atalay, the head of the International Sports Organisation of the Turkish Republic and a senior consultant to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, announced details of the bid at the Sports Event Management Conference here.

He said: "We strongly believe that we are going to have the best bid for 2012.

"In 2020 it [the Olympics] will be in Europe, hopefully going to Istanbul."

It will be Istanbul's fifth bid for the Games having unsuccessfully tried to host 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, when they failed to make the short-list as the event was awarded to London.

But they hope that having staged a number of events successfully, including the 2005 Champions League final when Liverpool beat AC Milan, and having been awarded several more, including the 2010 World Basketball Championships and the 2012 World Indoor Athletics Championships, they will be in a better position on this occasion.

Atalay said: "We didn't bid for 2016 because we were in a preparation period.

"It started with the Champions League final, which was a huge success.

"Turkey is a big country and it has much potential for hosting such events.

"But we wanted to get ready [for another Olympic bid], completely fully ready.

"Infrastructure-wise, Istanbul has improved a lot.

"Weather pollution is almost finished.

"It's one of the most secure cities in Europe.

"We are getting experienced at organising major events.

"We feel much more confident about being in a race with other cities."

Atalay claimed that 85 per cent of the Turkish population were already behind the bid in Istanbul, the country's largest city with a population of 12.6 million, and he promised the full support of Erdoğan and President Abdullah Gül.

But even if a bid for 2020 is not successful, Turkey is determined not to give up on winning the Olympics.

Atalay said: "We will keeping on bidding until we get it.

"We have the history, we have the culture, we have the experience.

"We are the bridge between Europe and Asia: different culture, different religions - they all live in Turkey in a friendly environment."

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