Turkey marks Youth and Sports Day, commemorates Atatürk
Turkey marked the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day on May 19 by remembering the country’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and the heroes of the War of Independence.
Every year, the country celebrates the day when Mustafa Kemal arrived in the Black Sea city of Samsun from Istanbul in 1919 to launch the war that transformed the nation into modern Turkey four years later.
But due to partial restrictions in effect in Turkey related to COVID-19 measures, a limited number of symbolic events took place, just like last year, instead of large-scale celebrations in the country’s stadiums and streets.
In the morning, Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu, top government officials, politicians and a group of athletes from Turkey’s 81 provinces and Turkish Cyprus attended a ceremony held at Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Atatürk.
After Kasapoğlu left a wreath made of red and white carnations at the mausoleum, participants observed a moment of silence and sang the national anthem.
To mark the day, most citizens hung Turkish flags from their houses’ balconies and many skyscrapers in Istanbul were decorated with giant Turkish flags, drawing the attention of many residents.
Due to the restrictions on large-scale events, Turkish youth had the opportunity to participate in online concerts, contests and e-sports tournaments organized specifically for the day.
Considering the importance of the day, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality also organized a tennis tournament on a floating platform built on the sea in the Golden Horn.
“In our fight against imperialist and colonialist occupying forces, our nation rushed forward to rise once more in solidarity and unity with an unshakable determination,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a message celebrating May 19.
Erdoğan underlined that young people are the hope of the country with their heroic deeds and efforts they have shown in every period since the country’s War of Independence.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu marked the day as the herald of the Turkish Republic.
“After these difficult days that we will overcome under the guidance of reason and science, we will have only one goal: To crown our beautiful Republic with democracy. Until that big day comes, it is forbidden for us to get tired or to despair,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in a message on Twitter.
İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener described May 19 as a historic beginning in a message she released.
“It is a historic step taken to re-prove the fact that the Turkish nation cannot be shackled against the enemies that are piling up all over our country,” Akşener said.
Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli also commemorated Atatürk, his comrades, founding heroes and the fallen soldiers with gratitude and mercy in a statement.