|ISTANBUL: The chairman for the Istanbul 2020 Olympic Games bid has said anti-government protests and Turkish athletes being banned for doping are not fundamental problems for his country or his bid.
Hasan Arat told Reuters that it is was normal for an Olympic bid to suffer ups and downs and that the issues had been, or were being dealt with.
Arat said: “What happened in Turkey with the protests and doping is something that I want to connect in a positive way.
“The protests are over in Turkey. There is no problem anymore, this is not a fundamental problem for Turkey.
“On the doping side we are cleaning up, there is zero tolerance. It is a very clear message for drug cheats in Turkey.”
Safe and secure
Protests in Turkey began over the government plans to redevelop a square in Istanbul and heavy-handed police tactics caused country-wide problems.
Questions were raised as to whether or not Istanbul could provide a safe Olympic Games, however Arat said: “It is a long journey, the preparation is three years and then another seven years if you are awarded the Games. There could be up and downs. That’s very normal.”
Last week 31 athletes were banned for drugs violations by the Turkish Athletics Federation but Arat said Turkey was fighting against the issue.
“On doping we must educate young people and (their) entourage,” he said. “What is important is we are fighting and getting result. We have gotten a good response from IOC members that we are fighting back.”