The 648th edition of the world’s longest running sporting competition: The annual Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Tournament, kicked off Saturday in Edirne, but the popularity of the event was bad news for some fans.
The hotels in the city, which in total have a capacity of 3,000 beds, could not meet the huge demand and many people were seen sleeping in parks and even right by gravestones.
The main source of complaint of those who slept outside was the mosquitoes. "We are not afraid of ticks," said Halil Kutay, who traveled from neighboring Tekirdağ. "But the mosquitoes are very disturbing. The municipality should have done a better job of using insecticides."
Those who were forced to spend the night outside headed back to Sarayiçi wrestling ground on Sunday to see who will become the "başpehlivan," the master of wrestlers.
Among the participants of the event’s final day was President Abdullah Gül. Edirne Mayor Hamdi Sedefçi thanked Gül at a meeting in the governor’s office for his support. "Kırkpınar is not an orphan anymore," he said. Gül said it would be rude not to come after the mayor traveled to Ankara to personally invite the president.
The final match of Kırkpınar was still in progress on Sunday as the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review went to press.
The competition has 13 different categories and a special category for little wrestlers and approximately 2,000 wrestlers competed for the "Gold Belt," given to "başpehlivan."
Since 1950, 43 men have been selected as the "ağa" of the contest undertaking responsibility for the organization. One of the youngest ağas, Muzaffer Bilge the son of the world and Olympic wrestling champion Gazanfer Bilge, took responsibility in the name of his father in 1966 when his father fell ill. Bilge was only 11-years-old.