Taha Aksoy: An incredibly enjoyable task
Taha Aksoy is one of those unsung heroes: the General Coordinator of the 23rd world university games or Universiade taking place in Izmir this month. In spite of his busy schedule, Mr Aksoy was kind enough to respond to our request for his remarks on what it takes to organise such as event and what the event means for the city and country in which it is held. He begins by explaining how the event came to be held in Izmir
It was during the first annual Turkish Universities Sports Games, organized in the provinces of Izmir, Manisa and Aydın, that the President of the Turkish University Sports Federation, Mr. Kemal Tamer, suggested to Mr. Ahmet Priştina, the Mayor of the Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir, that the city should hold the 23rd Universiade. The date was May 11, 1999. Also present on that occasion was Minister of State Fikret Ünlü.
The proposal was greeted with excitement. A delegation was sent to observe the games organized in Palma in 1999. The report of the delegation was positive, and on November 25 a formal application was made to the International University Sports Federation (FISU). In January 2000, the FISU Supervision Committee arrived in Izmir to conduct an inspection. The competition was stiff: cities in Canada, Mexico and Korea were also eager to host the 23rd World University Summer Games. The final candidate dossiers were presented to the FISU in Beijing, China, in July of the same year and Izmir was selected as the venue. In the following month that is, almost exactly five years ago - the Organising Committee was launched and preparations began.
Every effort has been made to ensure that this giant event goes off without problems. In every large scale, international organization, problems are faced. We have had our share. Yet none of these problems proved unsolvable. We were strongly motivated by the fact that it was the first time such a major sporting event was to be held in our country since the Mediterranean Games back in 1971. In this sense, out efforts would set a unique example. Whats more, we were well aware that our country is also a candidate to stage the Olympic Games.
The responsibility we have taken was too heavy for Both the city of Izmir and the Organising Committee took on a heavy burden of responsibility. But we enjoyed strong support from the state, especially following the passage of the Universiade 2005 Izmir Law. This helped many problems to be solved. In addition, literally everybody has shown great self-sacrifice and enthusiasm.
From Universiade to Olympics?
To give some idea of the size and importance of the event, it is only necessary to point out that while the total number of participants in all previous Universiades - including athletes and technical delegations - was approximately 6,000, the number of athletes and technique delegation participating in Universiade 2005 is approximately 9,000. It is not hard to imagine how many extra tons of food and drink will be consumed in Izmir over the fifteen-day period of the games, or how noticeably the population of Izmir will increase.
Universiades benefit the host country in many ways. It is not just a case of prestige, or of the wonderful friendships established with athletes who will be the executives of the future. The general benefits to the country are limitless. Suddenly, all the attention of the world focuses on you and your country through live and taped broadcasts. Universiades are perfect opportunities for the promotion of the country.
In addition, the facilities which countries acquire as a result of their preparations for the Universiades provide golden opportunities for the training of new athletes. Some of the Izmir facilities are allocated to the General Directorate of Youth and Sports and some to the Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir. But in practice all are available for Turkish and world athletes and sports fans. Since the facilities have been built or upgraded in compliance with international standards, it is now possible for many of the worlds sporting events to be staged in Izmir.
What happens next will depend to a large extent on how much interest sports fans show. At the same time, I believe that the 23rd Universiade 2005 Izmir will make a considerable contribution to the conviction that Turkey can successfully handle such large-scale events and hence to the holding of the Olympic Games in our country. The President of FISU is of the same opinion namely that the Universiade will have a considerable impact in bringing the Olympics here sooner rather than later.
A word of encouragement
I cannot overemphasise that the organisation of an Olympiade is a very difficult but at the same time an incredibly enjoyable task. You are bringing the youth of the world together in the atmosphere of sweet competition engendered by sport, and so creating a climate of peace which will be needed in the years ahead. At the same time, you are bringing these people together in your own country laying the foundations of this climate in your own country and before the eyes of the whole world. It is an unbelievable sensation. For this reason I would encourage all the countries which are candidates to stage this event, and advise those countries that have not plucked up the courage so far to become candidates. There is nothing to be scared of: every country which has experienced this event will be ready to support and assist them.
An entire team volunteers, personnel, arrangement and organisation committee members came together for the purpose of the 23rd Universiade 2005 Izmir. When we first met each other, nobody knew anybody. Since then, despite the rapid tempo, all these individuals have become not only elements of a well-organised unit, but also very good friends. It is as if we had always known each other. Everybody is familiar with everybody else. Everybody helps; everybody is supportive.
Some words of thanks
Starting from the people of İzmir and the cities in the neighbourhood, I would like to thank the Turkish public, all the public officials involved and the personnel and volunteers who have put their hearts and souls into making this months event possible. Not everybody can be commended personally. However, the contributions of the late Ahmet Priştina, Mayor of the Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir, and of the President of the Turkish University Sports Federation, Mr. Kemal Tamer, author of the original proposal to hold the games in Izmir, Turkey, are unforgettable. Great contributions have also been made by Mr. Priştinas successor as Mayor of the Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir, Aziz Kocaoğlu, by Minister of State and Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin, who activated the resources of the State, by Macit Toksoy, Yeşim Müderrisoğlu and Gül Şener working for the General Coordinatorship, by the entire Organizing Committee and by many, many others.
The Izmir marathon
The main milestones in the organisation of the 23rd Universiade 2005, Izmir, can be summed up as follows:
July14, 2000: Dossier presented in Beijing, China and candidature of Izmir approved
June 12, 2001: Organizing Committee officially launched
July 02, 2001: Mascot and emblem designed.
Dec 19, 2001:
Executive Committee launched
Mar 22, 2002: Announcement made for Main Sponsorship tender
Mar 2429, 2002: Inspection visit of FISU authorities, to Izmir.
Mar 26, 2002: Opening of Universiade House
Apr 15, 2002: Signing of main sponsorship contract
Jun 2, 2002: Residences in Athletes Village put out for sale
Oct 6-9, 2002: Preparations inspected by FISU Secretary General
Oct 22, 2002: Protocol signed between Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir and General Directorate of Youth and Sports on sharing responsibilities for repair and maintenance of sports halls
Dec 23, 2002: Construction of Athletes Village put out to tender
Jun 6, 2003: Contract signed for hardware and consulting services
Jul 11, 2003: Foundation of Athletes' Village laid, with participation of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State Responsible for Sports Mehmet Ali Şahin, Governor of Izmir Yusuf Ziya Göksu, Mayor of Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir Ahmet Priştina, FISU Secretary General Roch Campana, FISU Executive Committee Member Anastassov Constantin, and the Universiade 2005 Izmir volunteers
Dec 11-16, 2003: FISU Executive Committee meeting held in Izmir, with the participation of FISU family members and nearly 80 foreign delegates
Feb 07, 2004: Opening of IUOC headquarters office
Apr 16-24, 2004: FISU Supervision Commission meeting, and Technical Committee (CT) inspection of Games venues
Apr 21-23, 2004: Inspection visit of FISU Basketball and Volleyball CT Chairmen.
Apr 22-24, 2004: Inspection visit of FISU Football CT Chairman
Jun 15, 2004: Sudden passing away of Ahmet Priştina, Mayor of Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir and President of Universiade 2005 Izmir Organizing Committee
Jun 17-19, 2004: Inspection visit of FISU International Technical Commission Delegation of CT chairmen of individual sports
Jun 30, 2004: Aziz Kocaoğlu elected Mayor of Metropolitan Municipality of Izmir and becomes President of Universiade 2005, Izmir Organizing Committee.
July 2-9, 2004: 2004 World Sailing Championship in Izmir.
Aug 12, 2004: Inspection visit of FISU Artistic Gymnastic CT.
Aug 13-30, 2004: Visit of 20 representatives of Universiade 2005 Izmir Supreme Board to Athens, to observe the organization of International Olympic Games.
Sep 17-21, 2004: Inspection visit of FISU Athletics CT Chairman
Oct 11-14, 2004: FISU Director General Eric Saintrond and FISU International Technical Commission (CTI) inspection visits
Oct 22, 2004: Inspection visit of FISU Fencing CT Chairman, including observation of Athletes Village, IUOC Headquarters and improvements at various venues.
Oct 14, 2004: Taha Aksoy appointed chairman of Executive Committee and member of Organizing Committee.
Nov 10, 2004: Law No.5255, required for the organization of the 23rd Universiade 2005, Izmir, ratified, and Organizing and Executive Committees constituted, associated to the Supreme Board
November 26, 2004: First meeting of Supreme Board, chaired by Minister of State Mehmet Ali Şahin, in Ankara.
Dec 12-14, 2004: Visit of FISU Tennis CT Chairman
Jan 12-22, 2005: Visit of 18 representatives of the Supreme Board to Innsbruck, Austria, to observe the organisation of Innsbruck Winter Universiade and attend FISU Executive Committee meeting
February 28-March 4, 2005: Preparations
inspected by FISU Director General Eric Saintrod
April 14-16, 2005: Head of Delegations Meeting held in Izmir.
April 16, 2005: Team Draws of Universiade 2005, Izmir finalized
May 2628, 2005: Taha Aksoy, General Coordinator and Chairman of the Executive Committee, and Yeşim Müderrisoğlu, Assistant General Coordinator, attend FISU EC meeting in Brussels and present Status Report
(DIPLOMAT - August 2005 - Ankara)