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LOCAL > 2020 Olympics will be just a dream if protests continue: Istanbul mayor

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency

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Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş has again expressed his concerns about the impact of the protests on Istanbul's 2020 Olympic Games bid. DHA photo

Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş has again expressed his concerns about the impact of the protests on Istanbul's 2020 Olympic Games bid. DHA photo

Istanbul's bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics will be "just a dream" if the unrest sparked by the attempted demolition of Gezi Park continues, Mayor Kadir Topbaş has warned.

"Tourism professionals are very concerned. If all this continues, [hosting] the 2020 Olympics would be just a dream. Who would lose? Us, as the people, and Istanbul. We know very well who would win," Topbaş told reporters during a press briefing on June 24.

Gezi Park, located in Taksim at the heart of Istanbul's entertainment area, is surrounded by many large, luxury hotels. The redevelopment plans of the little park lead to a wave of protests that quickly took on a national dimension.

Topbaş asked for the help of the young people involved in the demonstrations to end their protests and repair the city's image. "I believe that our young people who use social media very efficiently and who are fluent in foreign languages could express [on social media] that our problems are behind us," he said.

Commenting on a previous statement in which he said that the municipality would ask the people "even for changes to bus stops" from now on, the Istanbul mayor retracted somewhat, saying it was impossible to consult the citizens on every single project. He said he had used the example metaphorically, emphasizing that projects that had been announced by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as electoral pledges could not be dealt with in such a way. 

"Our prime minister declared that he would undertake projects such as Canal Istanbul, the third airport, and the new [satellite] cities before the elections. He was elected with the support of Istanbul and Turkey, so he is simply putting in place what he [promised]," Topbaş said. "As local authorities, when we said 'bus stop,' we were referring to a logic, a philosophy."

He had previously warned about the potentially deadly effect of the unrest on Istanbul's Olympic bid during the first week of demonstrations. Turkey's largest city is competing with Madrid and Tokyo to eventually take the Olympic torch from Brazil's Rio de Janeiro, which is set to host the Games in 2016. The International Olympic Committee will announce its much-anticipated decision in September.

June/24/2013

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