Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline is in the global sporting spotlight, after two international sporting events kicked off there last week – namely the 17th Mediterranean Games, being hosted in Mersin, and the Under-20 (U20) Football World Cup, which sees the England team based in Antalya where it is playing its group stage matches.
The events are a sign that the effects of the recent civil uprisings in Istanbul have been minimal, if non-existent, in other parts of Turkey, particularly coastal areas popular with foreigners, such as Antalya.
Twenty-five thousand spectators gathered to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Mediterranean Games, with its record participation of around 6,000 athletes from 24 countries making it the biggest in the Games’ history, in the brand new Mersin stadium – one of 38 newly built or renovated venues delivered by TOKI, the powerful delivery agency that would be responsible for the construction of all Istanbul 2020’s Games venues. Mersin stepped in to replace the Greek city of Volos as the host of the Games less than two years ago, so having the infrastructure in place in time is a credit to Turkey.
President of the Turkish National Olympic Committee, Professor Uğur Erdener, said: “In just 18 months, TOKI has delivered what would normally take six years to deliver. TOKI has a proven track record, building 60,000 houses a year — the equivalent of an Olympic Village every quarter. With TOKI’s proven expertise and the finance and governance guarantees provided by our Olympic Law, the Olympic family can be assured that if Istanbul is awarded the honour of hosting the 2020 Games, we will deliver technically excellent venues on schedule in an environmentally responsible way.”
Meanwhile, Antalya’s Akdeniz University Stadium is one of the match venues chosen for the FIFA U20 World Cup 2013, running from 21st June to 13th July. As well as the England fans and U20 players, football legends Peter Taylor, who once managed the senior England team and is managing the U20 squad in 2013, and squad coach Stuart Pearce, who has 78 senior England caps, will have the chance to discover Antalya when they stay there during the tournament. England drew its opening match against Iraq on Sunday 2-2.