Turkish Cypriots Shackled in Life, Shackled in Sport

The British Turkish Cypriot Association (BTCA) in conjunction with the human rights group Embargoed!, held a protest outside The London Hilton on Park Lane, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) official headquarters for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The group was passing on the messages and sentiments of all Turkish Cypriots to once again remind the IOC of their promises to world athletes which is to ignore political differences within the spirit of the Olympic Games.

The main theme banner depicted a logo which read:

“Turkish Cypriots Shackled in Life, Shackled in Sport” and then asks: “WHY ?”

However, the answers to this question seem as complicated as the Cyprus problem itself and this again demonstrates the double standards practiced upon the Turkish Cypriot people.

BTCA Chairman, Cetin Ramadan, said in a letter to Mr. Jacques Rogg:

As the spirit of the Olympics finally hits the East end of London and the country as a whole, the excitement builds but Turkish Cypriots have mixed feelings about the whole affair. Many British Turkish Cypriots have expressed their dismay, sadness and disappointment at the exclusion of Turkish Cypriot athletes in the forthcoming London Olympic Games. As the BTCA, we have been called upon to channel their heartfelt grievances and request a reason why the IOC cannot accept Turkish Cypriots participating under the Olympic flag.

Regardless of the political circumstances in Cyprus, this should not be used as a reason to bar Turkish Cypriots from sport. We cannot understand why the IOC has denied participation of Turkish Cypriot athletes in the London 2012 Olympic Games especially as they are willing to compete as individual athletes under the Olympic flag, similar to athletes from other countries.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has produced world class athletes such as taekwondo World Champions Ziya Gokbilen and Pinar Akarpinar. But despite proving their world class competence and status, their request to compete under the Olympic flag was denied.

We believe that the discrimination of this magnitude represents a particularly vicious form of unreason and fear in the search for a UN sponsored political agreement in Cyprus. We believe it is precisely the mission of the IOC to dispel any such future actions by setting an example of the importance of diversity at a European and global platform.

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