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

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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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READER COMMENTS

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Irish Rover

6/25/2013 2:10:08 PM

AKP should have thought about the bigger picture before they started down this path of repressing peaceful protesters.

Hans-Joachim "Terrorist" Zierke

6/25/2013 4:45:04 AM

Now I understand! "Of course, the unwashed masses aren't allowed to have a word in projects like canals, airports, satellite cities, but you are welcome to decide about bus stops!" Thanks for explaining the concept, Kadir Topbaş.

Çılgın Kanarya

6/24/2013 11:26:27 PM

Topbaş, take it from me, tourists are not cancelling their trips to Istanbul because they are afraid of peaceful protesters standing still while holding pink carnations! But they are VERY worried about being caught up in what they have been witnessing for the past few weeks, which is the police INDISCRIMINATELY firing tear gas & pressurized 'medicated' water, firing plastic bullets at people's heads & dishing out random beatings! Address your concerns about the Olympics to your boss, not to us.

Barışçı

6/24/2013 10:29:16 PM

There is one logical way to stop the protests....listen to the people and end the violence. The Olympic's will bring pride to the country and help the economy but there are bigger things to mend at the moment thanks to Erdogan the grim.

K M

6/24/2013 10:25:18 PM

sure; who cares about rights when we can have the olympics. And no doubt the "bus stop" "philosophy" is a reminder that democracy is like public transit ...
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