By Duncan Mackay

Turkish Prime Minister opens facilites in MersinJune 10 - Turkey's under-fire Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has opened the facilities that have been built for the 17th Mediterranean Games, which are due to open in Mersin on June 20 and official claims will not be affected by the current unrest in the country, even though the riots have now spread to the area.

Police used tear gas in Adana, part of the Adana-Mersin metropolitan area in southern Turkey, as they clashed with protestors on the eve of Erdoğan's visit. 

The trouble had started when a pro-Government group hurled stones at marching anti-Government demonstrators, the state-run Anadolu Agency said.

Police evacuated women and children, but the two groups continued to clash with stones and batons before tear gas was employed to restore order. 

A joint statement from the National Olympic Committee of Turkey (NOCT) and Mersin 2013 organisers insisted that there was no risk to the event, which is expected to be attended by nearly 4,000 athletes from 24 countries competing in 27 sports.

"The Mersin 2013 local Organising Committee and the National Olympic Committee of Turkey can confirm that the Mediterranean Games is unaffected by the largely peaceful protests that have taken place in the Adana-Mersin area, after an exhaustive review of the current situation with leading experts found that there is no elevated risk to the event participants," they said.

"The safety and security of athletes and participants at Mersin 2013 has been our top priority from the very beginning.

"Under the direction of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, we have worked hand-in-hand with all the necessary authorities and drawn on international best practice to create rigorous safety and security models to deal with all eventualities.

"Turkey has an excellent safety and security record when it comes to major sporting events over the last decade, and athletes, officials and fans can be confident of experiencing those same high standards."

Recep Tayyip Erdogan with supporters in TurkeySupporters of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rallied to show their support following more than a week of civil unrest in the country

Erdoğan had delivered a defiant speech to supporters in Adana before making the short trip to Mersin where he opened the Servet Tazegül Sports Hall, which is named after the Turkish taekwondo player who won the Olympic gold medal in the 68 kilogram category at London 2012, 

Erdoğan said he observed the 7,500-arena with a helicopter while flying over it and that he felt "pride" with what he saw.

Mersin had been awarded the Games only in March 2011 after Volos, the original host, was stripped of the event because of the economic crisis in Greece.

"We have done a great job in Mersin in a short time," said Erdoğan, who plans to return for the Opening Ceremony. 

"It was supposed to be held in Greece's Volos city, but due to the financial crisis, it could not be realised.

"They asked if we could do it.

"We accepted it.

"Under normal conditions, countries are informed six years before the Games, but we successfully completed [the preparations] despite being informed only 18 months ago (sic)."

The success of the Mediterranean Games was always considered important to Istanbul's bid to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

But it has assumed even greater importance now with Turkish officials hoping to use it as an opportunity to get their campaign back on track before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) votes at its Session in Buenos Aires on September 7, where they will face rivals Madrid and Tokyo.

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June 2013: Mediterranean Games unaffected by riots, insists Mersin 2013