Israel Cycling Academy releases Turkish rider Ahmet Orken
Dec 21 2017 06:10 pm CET

Israel Cycling Academy releases Turkish rider Ahmet Orken
Israel Cycling Academy releases Turkish rider Ahmet Orken
Israel Cycling Academy

Israel Cycling Academy announced on Thursday that it has released its Turkish rider Ahmet Orken, who was under political pressure following recent events in the Middle East.

The rider's family in the Turkish city of Konya was forced to feel the consequences of the decision of US president Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital city.

"My family in Konya - especially my mother and brother - have found themselves in a dire situation," the rider explained in the press statement. "While I am thankful to be a professional cyclist, I am a dedicated son and brother first and foremost. I remain deeply thankful to the team, I have been treated like family from the very beginning. This was a unique opportunity for me both on and off the bike. I will continue to cheer for this program moving forward, both on and off the bike."

The team says that it did what it could to convince the rider to stay, with General Manager Ran Margaliot even traveling to Konya to speak to Orken and persuade him to reconsider his decision. The 25-year-old agreed to do so but was eventually forced to confirm his original decision as the pressure continued to mount.

"This is heartbreaking for all of us," Margaliot said. "Ahmet is a great athlete and a great person. He joined our program with a vision and commitment to putting sport - and with it, peace - above politics. It was a brave decision and one that was received with widespread support and approval among the Israeli and Turkish people.

"While we are disappointed by his decision, we only want what is best for him and his family. The doors of Israel Cycling Academy will be open for Ahmet and we certainly hope to see him rejoin us."



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