Kırkpınar Governor Calls for Cancellation of This Year’s Event

The Covid-19 pandemic originally delayed the 659th edition of the world's oldest sporting event from the first week of July to September. Now the main sponsor and ceremonial head of the event says he no longer supports the tournament taking place.

By Daniel Dawson
Aug. 24, 2020 11:06 UTC

The gov­er­nor of Turkey’s his­toric Kırkpınar olive oil wrestling tour­na­ment has said that he believes the com­pe­ti­tion should be can­celed this year.

The 659th edi­tion of the cen­turies-old event was orig­i­nally sched­uled to take place in the first two weeks of July, but was delayed until September as a result of the Covid-19 pan­demic.

The pan­demic process did not pass as we expected. Cases are increas­ing. If the fed­er­a­tion decides to hold Kırkpınar, I will not go.- Seyfettin Selim, gov­er­nor and spon­sor, Kırkpınar

Now, Seyfettin Selim argues that the integrity of the com­pe­ti­tion has been com­pro­mised and the world’s old­est sport­ing event should there­fore not go ahead.

This puts Selim at odds with the pres­i­dent of Turkey’s wrestling fed­er­a­tion, Musa Aydın, who is con­tin­u­ing to work with the country’s min­istry of health to decide how best to orga­nize the event.

See Also:Kırkpınar Coverage

Aydın orig­i­nally planned to hold this year’s Kırkpınar inside of a so-called bub­ble, where the wrestlers would stay (pend­ing a neg­a­tive test) until their elim­i­na­tion. No fans would be per­mit­ted to watch the event.

The pres­i­dent of the fed­er­a­tion is try­ing, but at this time there will be no wrestling wor­thy of Kırkpınar,” Selim said. The wrestlers can­not make prepa­ra­tions. There are nutri­tional pat­terns. They diet start­ing from December until June. They con­stantly improve them­selves.”

It’s obvi­ous why I don’t want it. Most of the wrestlers quit train­ing. If there are 50 head wrestlers, seven to eight of them are train­ing,” he added. We can­not find a real wrestler in Kırkpınar. I am against Kırkpınar this year, as agha, I will not do it.”

As agha of Kırkpınar, Selim, who is also a wealthy busi­ness­man and phil­an­thropist, pro­vides fund­ing for the event and awards the başpehli­van – the win­ner of the com­pe­ti­tion.

He claims that with­out his pres­ence, the event can­not go for­ward. Olive Oil Times was unable to ver­ify this claim.

The pan­demic process did not pass as we expected. Cases are increas­ing,” Selim said. According to fig­ures from the Turkish gov­ern­ment, there are nearly 15,000 active Covid-19 cases in Turkey and slightly more than 6,000 peo­ple have died from the dis­ease so far.

If the fed­er­a­tion decides to hold Kırkpınar, I will not go, but they can­not do it despite me,” he added. Even if it is done, I will not go.”


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