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  • Bach Downplays Protests Impact on Istanbul 2020


    06/17/13

    Police in Istanbul clash with protestors on June 16 (Getty Images).
    (ATR) IOC presidential candidate Thomas Bach tells Around the Rings he doesn’t believe the ongoing anti-government protests in Istanbul will influence the vote for the 2020 host city.

    “The IOC members are experienced with the politics and economy and they know they are voting on a candidate for seven years from now and that there are many things that can change and will change,” he said.

    “I would not see any influence on the vote on the host city.”

    The IOC Vice President spoke to ATR in Lausanne following presentations from the three 2020 bid cities at the Association of National Olympic Committees Extraordinary General Assembly.

    Turkish IOC member Urgur Erdener started Istanbul’s address by trying to downplay the impact of the riots in the city that threaten to derail the bid. “We welcome the dialogue that is taking place and beginning to wind down the protests,” he told delegates.

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan speaks to the media (Getty Images)
    But on Monday morning there was little indication that the protests would end soon, as media reports say the government was increasing its crackdown on protesters.

    In a speech to thousands of supporters on Sunday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made clear his disdain for the protests. “It is nothing more than the minority’s attempt to dominate the majority,” he was quoted by The New York Times.

    “We will not allow it.”

    Protesters clashed with police in Istanbul and the capital Ankara on Sunday night, a reaction to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan evicting demonstrators from Gezi Park on Saturday.
    Police detain protestors after a crackdown of demonstration at Taksim Gezi Park (Getty Images).
    Tear gas and water cannons were used to disperse demonstrators from Taksim Square and Gezi Park, where the protests against plans for its redevelopment began 18 days ago and triggered anti-government rallies across Turkey.

    Despite the challenges facing Istanbul 2020, Bach insisted Istanbul can mount a recovery.

    But with just two weeks before the 2020 candidate cities seminar in Lausanne –the most important milestone ahead of the Sept. 7 final presentation and vote at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires – time is running out for the bid to improve perceptions of riot-hit Istanbul.

    “Each of the cities has challenges,” he told ATR.
    Thomas Bach (Getty Images).

    “I think this time [July 4 presentations] it will be important for each of the cities to demonstrate clearly how they are addressing these kinds of challenges,” Bach added without going into specifics.

    At the ANOC meeting Saturday, president Sheikh Ahmad did not hold the press conference that was scheduled.

    The Kuwaiti may have faced questions about comments he made recently saying he was going to formally endorse Bach’s push for the IOC presidency at the ANOC assembly. But he dropped the plan after being advised it breached the IOC’s ethics regulations.

    Bach declined to comment to ATR when asked if he could count on the sheikh’s support in his quest to land the IOC presidency.

    Reported by Mark Bisson.

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