Mayor asks after clashes how Istanbul can claim to host the 2020 Olympics
Istanbul is considered closer than ever to hosting the Summer Olympics for the first time in history.
The violent clashes that rocked Istanbul over the last few days will be difficult to explain to the the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the city's mayor Kadir Topbaş has said, describing the police's withdrawal as coming "too late."
"As Istanbul's mayor going through such an event, the fact that the whole world watched saddens me. How will we explain it? With what claims will we host the 2020 Olympic Games?" Topbaş said in an interview with private broadcaster NTV on June 1.
Istanbul had been considered closer than ever to hosting the Summer Olympics for the first time in history, and had submitted a very ambitious bid to the IOC.
Topbaş also welcomed the withdrawal of the police during the afternoon. "It's a very correct move, but the police have been very late in pulling back. It could have been done much earlier. In democratic countries, people can gather to form ideas," he said.
He also said he had drawn lessons from the latest unrest, especially in terms of better "informing the public" about ongoing projects, including the "artillery barracks" that are poised to replace the park.
"We could have opened a stand in Taksim Square to inform people about the project. For instance, it won't be a shopping center. Maybe there will be some shops, some cafes, art galleries, a museum. We should have made a serious information campaign," he said.
Topbaş also said the major clashes and "manipulation" could have been avoided if they had explained that only five trees were to be cut to enlarge the pedestrian path next to the park.