Istanbul’s world-famous Bosphorus strait was closed to traffic yesterday as some 1,765 swimmers from 59 countries participated in the 32nd Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race.
“To organize such an event amid the pandemic is a strong message given to the world,” Youth and Sports Minister Muharrem Kasapoğlu said after the race and the award ceremony.
Hilal Zeynep Saraç from Turkey was crowned champion in the women’s category finishing the race in 47 minutes and 52 seconds, while Mustafa Serenay, also from Turkey, finished first in the men’s category in 46 minutes and 1 second.
“It was a fantastic race,” said Serenay.
“In 2018, I had won the race. It is great to win again after two years. This race is really tough,” said Saraç.
The race, organized annually since 1989 by the Turkish Olympic Committee (TOC), is the only swimming contest in the world which sees competitors swim from Asia to Europe.
The grueling 6.5-kilometer racecourse begins in Kanlıca, on the Asian side of Istanbul, and ends in Kuruçeşme Cemil Topuzlu Park on the European side.
This year’s race took place without spectators due to strict COVID-19 measures put in the place by event organizers.
From start to finish, every stage of the race was observed to be following social distancing rules and other public health measures aimed at protecting the health and wellbeing of all those taking part in the event.
Kasapoğlu, Istanbul Deputy Governor Niyazi Erten, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu and TOC President Uğur Erdener were amongst those that attended the event.
“Turkey held so many international organizations. With this race we see how the country’s sports tourism has gone so far and how we can manage things with our health infrastructure,” Kasapoğlu said, speaking after the completion of the race.
He also stressed on the importance of the “Everyone should learn how to swim” campaign that started two years ago.
“We will teach all young people who want to swim.”
“I would like to state that this success, for which we feel immense pride, has been achieved through devoted social and institutional efforts and cooperation. Our swimmers, who followed our public health guidelines, as well as the Youth and Sports Ministry, Istanbul Governor’s Office, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, sponsors, volunteers and all of the other organizations who have contributed to this year’s race are amongst the architects of this success,” Erdener said.
Hurriyet Daily News