The Bosphorus waterway. (ATR)
(ATR) Turkey is in the spotlight with major diplomatic developments as the IOC inspection team for the 2020 Olympic bids arrives in Istanbul.
The 14-member IOC delegation arrived Friday from Madrid, Istanbul the group’s final stop after starting in Tokyo earlier in the month.
Overshadowing the IOC visit are major developments affecting the security and regional influence of Turkey, both with positive implications for the bid.
A call for a truce Thursday by the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish insurgency is viewed as a major step toward resolving a lingering and deadly conflict. The threat of trouble from the Kurdish uprising has always been a security question mark for a Turkish bid, akin to the Basque separatists under the ETA banner in Spain, who are now in truce mode.
On Friday came a development reflecting the importance of Turkish regional influence: an apology from Israel for the 2010 commando raid on a flotilla of ships carrying aid to Gaza. The attack in the Mediterranean killed eight Turkish citizens and led to a deep rupture between Turkey and Israel, once strong allies.
The developments may affect the schedule of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to meet with the IOC Commission. His appearance is tentatively set for Sunday’s opening session, but he will meet with the commission at some time, regardless.
Away from diplomacy, Turkish sports leaders are dealing with a doping case that could result in a lifetime ban for 1500m London 2012 gold medalist Cakir Alptekin. It’s reported that the World Anti Doping Agency is asking Turkish authorities to take action against Alptekin
The IOC commission will meet at the Four Seasons hotel. (ATR)
for what would be her second doping infraction.
In a statement to Around the Rings, Istanbul 2020 says while it can’t comment on the case, Turkish law supports the fight against doping.
“This speculation has not been confirmed by the relevant authorities, so therefore it is not appropriate to comment further on this matter. But of course we take the subject of doping in sport very seriously as doping is a major issue worldwide and Turkey is ready to play its part to stamp it out. Turkey has a zero-tolerance policy on cheats and they have no place in our Olympic story. Any athlete found to have cheated will be punished to the full extent of Turkey’s strict anti-doping legislation, other laws and in accordance with international anti-doping practices,” says the statement.
The IOC commission will hear about Turkish anti-doping policy as one of the 14 themes Istanbul 2020 organizers will present across four days of meetings. The commission will work and sleep at the Four Seasons hotel on the shoreline of the Bosphorus. The location may be the most dramatic and atmospheric of their previous stops in Tokyo and Madrid.
The commission will combine closed door meetings with tours of the venue clusters spread across the Asian and European sides of this city of 13 million. This the fifth bid from Istanbul and bid leaders believe that they can show the IOC significant changes to infrastructure and venues since its last bid eight years ago for the 2012 Games.
Written and reported in Istanbul by Ed Hula
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