International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge Thursday shrugged off any concerns that current unrest in Turkey will have a detrimental impact on Istanbul’s bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.
“These protests will have no negative effects on Istanbul’s bid,” Rogge told Turkish television while attending the International Sport for Peace and Development Forum in New York.
What started last Friday as a sit-in to block planned development at Istanbul’s Gezi Park spiralled into nation-wide protests and calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“So far calm seems to have been restored,” Rogge said.
“Similar protests have been experienced in other cities before.
“There are seven years before the 2020 Games. We need to take the time factor into consideration”
Istanbul 2020 President Hasan Arat, while attending the same forum, took a constructive approach to the week’s events in Turkey.
“The theme for the UN Forum was ‘Creating a Common Vision’, and that could not be more relevant for the people of Istanbul right now,” he said.
“As the predominantly peaceful protests continue in Turkey, sport can be a tool for bringing opposing groups together in peaceful and productive dialogue. Listening to the world’s leading
authorities in harnessing the power of sport and Olympism has been a fantastic learning experience at a crucial time for our bid.
“Istanbul 2020 has been our nation’s ‘Common Vision’ for 20 years, and that is no less true today. All recent polls have shown an overwhelming majority in favour of bringing the Games to Turkey for the first time. I am confident that in the coming days and weeks, our Olympic bid will continue to be a unifying force.”