Turkish rider quits Israeli cycling team over Jerusalem controversy
One of Turkey’s best known professional cyclists has joined a homegrown Turkish team after quitting his Israeli outfit due to the controversy generated by the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reports said Dec. 26.
Ahmet Örken, who will now cycle for Salcano Sakarya Büyükşehir in the northern province of Sakarya, cited pressures on his family following the Jerusalem recognition as the reason for his departure.
“It was a difficult period in the last two weeks,” Örken said, quoted by the Doğan news agency, as he signed the contract in Sakarya on Dec. 25.
“I took the decision so as not to worry about my country and my family. This is a decision that I have taken myself,” said the multiple Turkish time trial champion.
Israel Cycling Academy, the Pro Continental team with whom Örken had signed a two-year agreement in September, said it had agreed to release Örken from his contract.
“While we are disappointed by his decision, we only want what is best for him and his family. The doors of Israel Cycling Academy will be open for Ahmet and we certainly hope to see him rejoin us,” said the team’s general manager Ran Margaliot.
The issue is far from the only controversy for the Israeli cycling world after Trump’s move with disputes also raging over the decision to start the 2018 Giro d’Italia from Jerusalem.