Turkey's Mediterranean Games To Continue As Planned Despite National Protests

Turkey’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) announced Monday that the Mediterranean Games scheduled to be held in Mersin, Turkey from June 20 to 30 will proceed as planned despite “largely peaceful protests” in the Adana-Mersin area.

Protests calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister have spread across Turkey after a demonstration against Tdevelopment at an Istanbul park was met with forceful resistance by police last month.

Mersin is about 900 km South-East of Istanbul. Istanbul is bidding to host the 2020 Olympic Games against Madrid and Tokyo; the campaign will come to a vote in 90 days.

“An exhaustive review of the current situation with leading experts found that there is no elevated risk to the event participants,” a joint statement from Mersin 2013 and the NOC said.

“The safety and security of athletes and participants at Mersin 2013 has been our top priority from the very beginning. Under the direction of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, we have worked hand-in-hand with all the necessary authorities and drawn on international best practice to create rigorous safety and security models to deal with all eventualities.

“Turkey has an excellent safety and security record when it comes to major sporting events over the last decade, and athletes, officials and fans can be confident of experiencing those same high standards.

“On Sunday the newly built venues were opened by Prime Minister Erdogan on schedule, after Mersin stepped in as hosts less than two years ago and successfully compressed a six-year delivery programme into just 18 months.

“The ability to build 11 new venues in that time with no compromise on quality, underlines Turkey’s outstanding delivery capacity.”

Last week IOC President Jacques Rogge downplayed any possible damage the protests may have caused to Istanbul’s Olympic bid.

“These protests will have no negative effects on Istanbul’s bid,” he told Turkish television.

“There are seven years before the 2020 Games. We need to take the time factor into consideration.”