Olympics could bring peace to the region, says Turkish minister
Turkey's Sports Minister Suat Kılıç. REUTERS photoIf Turkey manages to score hosting the Olympics in 2020, the event could bring peace to the troubled region, according to Turkey’s Sports Minister Suat Kılıç.
“When Istanbul becomes an Olympic city, it could spread a wave of peace over the whole region through sports,” the minister told daily Hürriyet, adding that the Olympics would also prompt a societal transformation in “Turkish and Muslim countries” that had never hosted the summer or winter games.
“I have no doubt over any general voting with Istanbul involved, but impossible to guess the way the members of the committee would go. There is an evaluation that goes on outside of us, to that I can agree. Turkish and Muslim countries never had any of the summer or winter games, however, it is clear that it would provide a serious societal transformation in our world as well,” Kılıç said.
The voting between the three contenders, Turkey, Madrid and Tokyo, is set to culminate on Sept. 7 in a final meeting, which will also be attended by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Kılıç highlighted Istanbul’s diversity, saying, “I know that Istanbul Müfti is praying for us to get the Olympics, and so does the Istanbul Greek Orthodox Patriarch, as well as the patriarch of the Armenian community, and the Jewish chief rabbi of Istanbul. I say that because I know it.”
The interview further focused on the financial costs the Olympic Games would place upon the city with around 3 billion already announced as the Olympic budget. Kılıç said despite the estimated amount being extremely high, the reality would not follow that.
“That number is set by the international prices of construction, not by the prices in Turkey. The cost for us will definitely drop under $2.9 billion. And not all of it will be paid by the state either; the Turkish private sector is very willing in matters of sponsorship. We already had half of our candidacy budget from private sources,” Kılıç told daily Hürriyet.
Kılıç also repeated his remarks regarding the recent doping scandals that have been coming out back to back in Turkish sports, saying the country did not deserve to be punished.
“We follow WADA procedures, and collect samples frequently. We did not sweep this under the rug. We, as the Sports Ministry, are the ones who pay 400 euros for each sample. We do not deserve to be punished on the way to 2020. We are the country that fights the fiercest battle against doping substances in the world,” Kılıç told Hürriyet.
Just recently, The Turkish Athletics Federation (TAF) banned two-time European 100m hurdles champion Nevin Yanıt from the sport for two years for doping. Earlier last month, the board banned 31 Turkish athletes including Olympic medalist Eşref Apak, from competitions for two years, a month after announcing that they had tested positive for banned substances.
A decision on the women’s 1,500m Olympic champion Aslı Çakır Alptekin is still pending.