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Despite upheaval, Istanbul 2020 bidders remain confident of support

Published June 3, 2013 11:50 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Istanbul • Olympic bidders say the Turkish people "remain united" in the effort to hold the 2020 Summer Games in Istanbul despite fierce anti-government protests in recent days.

As riot police used tear gas against protesters Monday for a fourth straight day in Istanbul, two senior IOC officials said the unrest should not harm the bid.

The demonstrations grew out of anger over a violent police crackdown of a peaceful environmental protest at Istanbul's Taksim Square and spread to other Turkish cities. The protests by mostly secular Turks have spiraled into Turkey's biggest anti-government disturbances in years.

The protests are seen as a display of frustration with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who critics say has become increasingly authoritarian.

Istanbul bid organizers say they're monitoring the demonstrations in Istanbul "very carefully." While they're buoyed by the "positive community spirit in helping to clean up and repair damage," the situation remains fluid.

"Despite these recent events, all sections of Turkey remain united in our dream to host our nation's first ever Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020," Istanbul 2020 said in a statement. "The slogan for our Olympic bid is 'Bridge Together' and there is a common desire to unite in the Olympic spirit and show the world that we can work together for a better Turkey."

Istanbul is vying with Madrid and Tokyo, with the International Olympic Committee to select the host city on Sept. 7 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.