Joy and excitement prevailed as tens of thousands of people gathered in İstanbul’s grand stadium on Thursday to watch the outstanding performances of student competitors in the 10th Turkish Olympiads.The venue for the grand finale on Thursday was the Türk Telekom Arena — Galatasaray’s new multi-billion-dollar, 52,000-capacity football stadium in İstanbul’s Seyrantepe neighborhood. Thousands,
arriving early in the hope of getting seats in the stadium,remained outside and had to watch the closing ceremony on giant screens set up outside of the venue.
A group of 290 international performers put on a show in a 16-minute visual feast presented to the audience amidst a stunning light show depicting a world map in honor of Turkish teachers who have immigrated to countries across the globe. The students wore costumes specially-made for the closing ceremony.
Animations and images were projected onto a giant screen set on the pitch as an orchestra composed of 50 musicians provided the music for the night. Four giant model representations of the four different continents from which the students came were also placed on the stage.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his spouse Emine Erdoğan, Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı, İstanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu and İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş all attended the closing ceremony. The organizers from the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER) delivered the Turkish Olympiads’ Special Award to Erdoğan for his “support for efforts to promote the Turkish language.”
Erdoğan, in a speech delivered following his reception of the award, hailed the 10th Turkish Olympiads as an effective way to promote Turkish language and culture, expressing his gratitude to devoted teachers working in Turkish schools in more than 140 countries all over the world.
“Turkey is a friend and brother of your country,” Erdoğan told foreign students in the stadium, which was filled with over 50,000 spectators. The prime minister spoke at length about the clout of the Turkish language in past centuries and saluted the over 1,500 students who came to İstanbul to participate in the contest.
Erdoğan, who has been a keynote speaker at previous Turkish Olympiads closing ceremonies, thanked Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, without directly mentioning him by name, and implied that he should return to Turkey as soon as possible from the US, where he has lived for nearly 13 years. “We want this yearning to end,” he said, receiving a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd, in an open invitation to Gülen to return to his homeland.
Erdoğan said teachers who are working in Turkish schools abroad deserve plaudits and much gratitude and thanksgiving, saying it is not possible to ignore their work.
A total of 1,500 international students from 135 countries have come to Turkey for the Turkish Language Olympiad. This year’s competitions, which commenced on May 30 and finished on June 14, have predominantly been held in Ankara and İstanbul, but there have also been activities taking place in 41 other Turkish cities. The theme of this year’s Olympiad is “İnsanlık için el ele” (Hand-in-hand for humanity).
Users on Twitter also tweeted about the Olympiads, making #turkcearenasi and #bayramobayramola top trending topics.