The message of the opening ceremony will be peace, and participants will participate in a “family photograph” stressing this message. The Olympics organization committee has already posted thousands of posters all over Turkey and tried to raise public awareness about the event. Students from 100 countries are in Turkey and some of had the chance to be hosted by Turkish families. The students gathered on Thursday at the Asya Thermal Complex, Kızılcahamam.
Turkish Airlines (THY) gave a 50 percent discount to those traveling to participate in the Olympics and the Asya Thermal Complex is hosting the event for the fifth time this year. Asya General Director Zeki Çiftçi said that it is a great honor for them to host international Turkish-speaking students and their teachers in the complex.
The resort hotel came as a pleasant surprise to the participating students after a lengthy period of preparation, and in some cases flights thousands of miles long. Students gathering in the complex on Thursday established the first friendship ties of the Olympics.
Enthusiastic about the semi-finals that take place in Ankara on Saturday, some students were hard at work preparing. Indonesian students garnered attention with their traditional costumes. Mirza Seferagic from Bosnia and Herzegovina said that he has prepared a presentation on late Bosnian President Aliya Izzetbegovic and the war. Seferagic is hoping to give a message of global peace through his presentation. Esma Shehovic, from the same country, was a bit tired from the connected flight from Bosnia, “but the excitement of the Olympics overcomes even tiredness,” he said.
The Olympics, organized by the International Language Teaching Association, employs the slogan “Türkçenin 100 akları” (a play on words meaning “pride of the Turkish language”). Five-hundred students from different ethnicities, races and religions will compete. They will show their competence in Turkish under the categories of poetry, songs, presentations, speaking, and writing essays. Participating countries include the US, Vietnam, Brazil and Tanzania, but their citizens will all speak a common language: Turkish. Last year’s Olympics were very successful and received universal acclaim, and this year’s Olympics are also expected to be a winner with its final night prize ceremony, surprises and colorful moments.
There were 17 countries represented at the first Turkish Olympics, 24 at the second, 41 at the third and 83 at the fourth.
The Olympics will start with the opening ceremony today while the semifinals of the poetry and song contests will be held tomorrow. The semifinals venue will be the Anadolu Gösteri ve Kongre Merkezi (performance and congress center) -- formerly known as the Anatolia Showland, but renamed with a Turkish name for the Turkish Olympics. Finals will be held on June 2 in the İstanbul Gösteri ve Kongre Merkezi -- another center that changed its name last year. Finalists will be determined by SMS voting from viewers in Turkey. A star-packed jury will decide the winners.
The International Turkish Olympics has been organized since 2003 with the goal of promoting the role of Turkish in the world, and it is sponsored by the Education Ministry, the Culture Ministry, the Youth and Sports General Directorate, the Turkish Language Society (TDK), UNESCO and the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA).