Turkish cycling star quits Israeli team over Jerusalem controversy

Ahmet Okren, one of Turkey’s best-known cyclists, abandoned his Israeli team after the controversy over Jerusalem.

Turkish cycling star quits Israeli team over Jerusalem controversy

One of Turkey’s best-known professional cyclists, Ahmet Okren, has quit the Israel Cycling Academy due to the controversy generated by the United States recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Okren will now cycle for Salcano Sakarya Buyuksehir, a Turkish team.

Okren’s family in a ‘dire situation’

The Turkish cyclist, who had signed a two-year contract three months ago with the Israeli team, cited pressures on his family as the reason for his departure. "It was a difficult period in the last two weeks", Orken said on Monday, quoted by the Dogan news agency. "I took the decision so as not to worry about my country and my family. This is a decision that I have taken myself".

The Israel Cycling Academy agreed to release Okren from his contract after the cyclist said his family had found themselves in a compromised situation. "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", said the team's general manager Ran Margaliot.