Concerns of terrorism continue to put winter sports in Europe on alert and force the continent’s Olympic Committee to schedule emergency meetings to consider moving for the Winter Olympics (Winter European Youth Olympic Festival – EYOF) that Turkey hosted.
AFP cited a statement by the European Olympic Committee (EOC) saying the organization is closely monitoring the host country’s security developments for the winter sports festival for young athletes.
The final decision on whether to continue to Erzurum province (Turkey) to organize the event (taking place from 11-18 February) was made after a meeting between EOC and Turkish Olympic Committee on January 26 to come in Lausanne (Switzerland). “The safety of the above athletes attending the event is our top priority”, the EOC said in a statement Wednesday.
Security concerns at the EYOF event (expected to be 1,500 athletes aged 14-18 years old) are currently in the state of red alert after a series of terrorist attacks in Turkey, including The latest was a 39-gun shooting dead at Reina nightclub (Istanbul) on the first day of 2017. Earlier, in December last year, a car bomb exploded in the city of Kayseri (located far from Erzurum 640 km to the west) causing 13 deaths and 50 injuries.
Islamic State terrorist organizations (IS) are all accused of carrying out attacks. According to Reuters, only in 2016, ISIS made four terrorist attacks on Turkey after the country took military actions to repel the said terrorist organization.
Meanwhile, in the face of terrorist fears, the British Olympic Association (BOA) reassured the athletes by claiming to place their full confidence in the measures to tighten security at EYOF. The BOA believes that terrorism is currently a concern not only for winter sports, but also for summer sports events and other tournaments around the world.
Last year, the world curling championship was also withdrawn from Erzurum due to the threat of terrorism and was transferred to Copenhagen (Denmark). This year’s EYOF event was originally given to Sarajevo but was later discussed with Erzurum (winning the EYOF 2019 bid) because Bosnia said it was not timely to prepare the infrastructure and the organization.