Sports Diplomacy: A Turkmenistan’s Perspective

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

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World has changed after “Cold War”. Now means and modes of “soft image” projection have totally been changed. Use of diplomacy has become paramount in international relations. It promotes constructive dialogue and development among the nations. Moreover, sports diplomacy has become a game-changer in the power politics. Sports stand for determination, courage, friendship and hospitality and the Republic of Turkmenistan has already become icon of sports diplomacy by conducting Ashgabat 2017.

Sports Diplomacy

Sports diplomacy is defined through close and already well-defined terms: diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, public diplomacy. It can be viewed as a set of formal and informal actions of the State, its diplomatic missions, sports officials, athletes and coaches to implement the goals and objectives of foreign policy through sports, sports competitions.

A Universal Language

Sports diplomacy is an increasingly important aspect of diplomatic. Sport is a universal language and plays a unique role in shaping and showcasing Turkmenistan’s identity, values and culture. The values of sport competition, teamwork and fair play help build trust between countries and bring people together. Hopefully, the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to be held in Ashgabat in September 2017 will tremendously bring multiplier socio-economic and geo-politico benefits to Turkmenistan.

Sports Diplomacy Transcend Cultural differences and bring people together

Sports diplomacy describes the use of sport as a means to influence diplomatic, social, and political relations. Sports diplomacy may transcend cultural differences and bring people together. Turkmenistan’s the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games will provide an ideal platform to promote togetherness, unity, harmony and better understanding about different cultures and faiths. It will enhance tolerance too.

Ashgabat 2017

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Ashgabat 2017 has multiplier effects for its economy too. It will enhance its “soft image” in the world which is now rated as a cash commodity. It will further foster its socio-economic prosperity. It will increase tourism in the country and further strengthen its associated industries related to “services” i.e. hotel, aviation, entertainment, marketing, food & beverage and the last but not the least, transport & logistics etc. It will integrate new ideas, innovations and new sets of opportunities.

It will showcase Turkmenistan’s marvelous culture, traditions, folks and above all its incomparable onward march of socio-economic prosperity. It will reflect its national resolve towards better qualitative life, education, and above all peace and harmony in the country. It will be “value-addition” to its people’s friendly governance.

Miracles of

Sports which create miracles and turns prejudices into prosperities will be a larger than life international event in Turkmenistan. Sports which lessen apartheid and increases association will be an international event of joint celebrations, true sentiments and above all pure competition in Ashgabat 2017.

Magic of Sports

Sports which diminish conflicts, confrontations and transform it into diplomacy, dialogue and development will be an ideal stage for universalism, brotherhood, friendship and above all shared values of hospitality, progress, virtue, struggle and survival. Sports which decrease divisions and blend differences will a befitting proposition for everyone in Ashgabat 2017. Last but not the least, sports which highlight elements of perfection, preciseness and pursuance will be well catered in Turkmenistan during the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to be held in September 2017.

Optimal Utility of Sports

Sports Diplomacy has emerged as an integral part of efforts to build ever-strengthening relations among the nations and Turkmenistan is a champion to achieve its desired goals of socio-economic prosperity through sports, folks and cultural dialogues.

Sports diplomacy uses the universal passion for sports as a way to transcend linguistic and sociocultural differences and bring people together and Turkmenistan is on right path to gel the diversified people, minds, faiths and ideas while hosting Ashgabat 2017. Moreover, participation in sports teaches leadership, teamwork, and communication skills that help young people succeed in all areas of their lives and Ashgabat 2017 would provide an ideal opportunity to its people to achieve greater connectivity with the world. Sports diplomacy increases dialogue and cultural understanding between people around the world and Ashgabat 2017 would be a hotspot for better understanding.

Turkmenistan’s International Sporting Pedigree

Turkmenistan has a remarkable international sporting pedigree and is internationally recognised as a consistent, high-performing sporting nation. It recognition extends to Turkmenistan’s domestic system in community, development, and high performance sport. Sports diplomacy is a powerful force for reaching individuals in every corner of the globe. Sports transcend borders, increase dialogue, and expose foreign participants. Outside of official channels, sports diplomacy connects people on a personal level through common interests, values, and passions and Ashgabat 2017 would produce “paradigm shift” in the outlook of Turkmenistan and its people.

The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG)

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The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) will be held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in 2017. It will be the first OCA Games to be held in the Central Asian country. The 5th AIMAG will take place in its newly built Olympic Village, a multi-purpose sports facility which is now ready to mesmerize the people. The complex will feature 30 venues, and the first phase of construction is estimated at USD2 billion.

In addition to the 45 NOCs of the OCA, the following 17 NOCs from Oceania will participate in the Games:

Participating Countries Participating Countries
Australia New Zealand
Cook Islands Palau
Fiji Papua New Guinea
Guam Solomon Islands
Kiribati American Samoa
Marshall Islands Tonga
Federated States of Micronesia Tuvalu
Nauru Vanuatu
Source: Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan (2016)

According to an official figure seven associate members of ONOC will also compete: New Caledonia, Tokelau, Niue, Norfolk Island, Tahiti, Wallis and Futuna, Northern Marianas.

The following sports will be included for the 5th AIMAG:

Turkmenistan, one of the most dynamically developing nations in Asia will host the fifth Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games, as the country acquires the status of a sports state, where the health and lifestyle has become a priority of the state politics.

Names of Sports Names of Sports
Chess Basketball
Futsal Taekwondo (WTF)
Muay Thai Dance Sport
Sambo Kickboxing,
Kurash Belt Wrestling
Jiu Jitsu Wrestling (FS/Greco Roman)
Bowling Cue Sport (Billiards and Snooker)
Indoor Athletics Cycling (track)
Weightlifting (Powerlifting) Swimming
Source: Foreign Ministry of Turkmenistan (2016)

Turkmenistan is proud of its ‘Neutrality’, offers all the necessary conditions for development, first and foremost, for a life in peace and harmony. It carries a great importance to create all the necessary conditions for holding major sports events, among which Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games play a significant role. The Games contribute, not only to increasing of international sports prestige of Turkmenistan, but also to further training of highly qualified sportsmen and popularization of different kinds of sport in the country.

Historic Perspectives

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Its “500 countdown” has been officially celebrated. Ashgabat 2017 is a gigantic effort from top to bottom from dynasty to dynamics. Its bilateral agreement was signed between “Olympic Committee of Asia” and “National Olympic Committee of Turkmenistan” and also the city administration of Ashgabat on the 19th of December 2010. Turkmenistan is the first city in Central Asian region to get the right to host 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games, a significant event in the life of Turkmenistan.

On November 5, 2010 the foundation for the Olympic Village was laid the arenas where the 5th Asian Games 2017 will be held. The largest in the region Olympic Village will be located on an area of 157 hectares. It included over 30 different facilities, including social-living, transportation and other infrastructures. Total cost of the facilities is 5 billion dollars. Construction of the village will be carried out in three stages. In 2014 the first stage of construction was completed and in December 2015 the second had also been completed.

In January 2013, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed a decree on the establishment of the Organizing Committee of the 2017 V Asian indoor and martial arts games. In November 27-28, 2014 in Ashgabat, during the signing ceremony of the document on the participation for the first time of Oceania countries in the history of V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in 2017.

5th AIMAG will be staged in the white-marbled city of Ashgabat, “the pearl of Asia”, in 2017. A great number of valuable guests from 62 countries, including 45 Asian and 17 Pacific countries will be received. It expects 5 thousand athletes from 21 kinds of sport, 2,500 coaches, more than 10,000 foreign guests, more than 1,500 technical staff members and over 10,000 volunteers. Approximately 150,000-200,000 sport fans are expected to arrive in Ashgabat in September 2017. Opening and closing ceremonies of the Games will be held at the open air stadium with the capacity of 45,000 spectators. For the sake of transportation convenience on the vast territory, a monorail way will connect Olympic Village for 12 thousand “residents” with other venues of Olympic Park.

The sports venues are under construction in Turkmenistan Olympic Park with the square of 156 hectares. It includes over 30 multi-purpose venues, Paralympic Complex and Medical Rehabilitation Center. The sports venues in the Olympic Park will be provided with high quality sports equipment manufactured by leading world companies, also the peculiarities of venue decorations will be taken into account.

Moreover all sportsmen and participants will be provided with all the necessities. Major competitions change image of cities, force their development, thus Ashgabat truly has a bright future. Turkmenistan is also closely working with its closest partners, which are Olympic Council of Asia, National Olympic Committees of different countries, and Sports Federations during the Games preparations.

Diversified Adventures

Meaningful & Integrative Activities Details
International Exhibition
“Ashgabat the capital of Asiada 2017” It was held on the 3-5 April 2014. Over 60 world sports companies participated in the event. Sports equipment, sports requisites and sports clothing were presented. Companies from Russia, Great Britain, Germany, France, Holland, Italy, Austria, Spain and many others presented their services. Some of the participating companies took steps to establish mutually beneficial connections with Turkmenistan.
Opening ceremony of Masterclass “Asiada Cuisine 2017 It was held on 8-10 April 2014. The forum participants were introduced to the peculiarities of the national traditional cuisine of Turkmenistan. Experienced cookery experts from over 20 countries – Great Britain, Germany, China, Korea, Malaysia, India, Nepal, Japan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, the Ukraine and others arrived to Turkmenistan to participate in this event.
54th International Conference of the Sports Group of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union It was arranged on 30th April and 3rd of May, 2014. the foreign delegates were informed about the process of preparations for Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games and discussed issues relating broadcasting of sports competitions in different parts of the world during AIMAG 2017.
Meeting with AIMAG 2017 Organizing Committee the President of Turkmenistan Honorable Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov held a meeting with AIMAG 2017 Organizing Committee. President appointed the staff of the Organizing Committee and gave a permission to sign an agreement with the British company “CSM Sport & Entertainment LLP trading as CSM Strategies” on the AIMAG general plan development.
Belt Wrestling World Championship It took place in Ashgabat at the end of November 2014 was participated by 250 sportsmen from 25 countries.
Memorandum of participating of 17 Pacific Countries in the Games between the Organizing Committee It was held on November 28, 2014. the President of Turkmenistan Honorable Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov suggested to include two new sports – hurdle racing and Turkmen national “goresh” wrestling.
International conference titled “Asiada 2017 and the Role of Turkmenistan in Development of Sport for Progress and Peace” It was staged on April 2015. International and Turkmen Sports specialists, media experts, the representatives of field-specific departments, sport clubs and some international press agencies participated in the international Sports Media Forum.
43th meeting of Olympic Council of Asia General Assembly It was held on September 15 & 16, 2016. The delegates of National Olympic Committees of Asian and Pacific Region Countries, heads of IOC and OCA took part in the meeting.

In March 2015 the Executive Committee, the Union of Entrepreneurs and Industrialists of Turkmenistan and the Central Council of Makhtumkuli Youth Organization announced a competition for creating a motto of Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games 2017. The motto chosen for the Games in three languages goes as: “Sagdynlyk. Ruhubelentlik. Dostluk.” ™, “Health. Inspiration. Friendship.” (Eng), “Здоровье. Воодушевление. Дружба.”(гиз).

Turkmenistan is acquiring the status of a sports state, where the health and lifestyle has become a priority of the state politics. Due to state programs and policy, the development of high performance sport has become a guide for each sports clubs even in the most remote cities of the country.

The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games, which is the first major international sports event to be held in the country’s, will bring unique knowledge, skills and experience, as it will develop patriotic feeling and engage young generations in sports.

President Berdimuhamedov released a major action plan for each government ministry in preparation for hosting the AIMAG 2017 in Ashgabat. Representatives of Turkish, Italian and British companies attended the Cabinet session and pitched new project ideas in preparation and organization of the games.

500-Day Countdown

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The 500-day countdown to the 5th Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games featuring 45 countries was formally launched with a traditional horse race in the World Heritage Listed Parthian Fortresses of Nisa just outside Ashgabat.

President Gubanguly Berimuhamedov formally launched the countdown with President of the Olympic Council of Asia, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah. President Gubanguly Berimuhamedov hoped that proper preparations and hosting of the Asian Games would contribute to the strengthening of Turkmenistan’s standing in the world. The President said the people and the government of Turkmenistan are ready to host the Games and thanked OCA member countries for trusting his nation by awarding the games to Ashgabat, adding that all resources would be utilised for the facilitation of the athletes’ arrival in 2017.

OCA President Sheikh Al-Sabah expressed his satisfaction of the preparations so far, saying the Games in the Central Asian State would open up new horizons in sports, culture, and brotherhood among the Asian countries of the world. Sheikh Al-Sabah wished the Games organisers good luck and assured that OCA member states would extend all-out support for their success.

Participating Nations

Participating nations include Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Combodia, China, DPR Korea, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, I.R. Iran, Chinese Taipei, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, and Yemen.

Turkmenistan is a passionate sporting country. Its five billion dollars, the five million population are getting a 45,000-capacity main stadium, the world’s biggest indoor velodrome with a capacity of 6,000 spectators, a basketball stadium, indoor athletic track certified by the International Association of Athletic Federations, tennis courts and a host of other world class facilities and hotels much of them covered in a marble exterior will definitely enhance its soft image in the world.

President Berdymukhamedov has personally taken charge of preparations for the 2017 Games. He hopes the Games will launch Turkmenistan onto bigger competitions and is already considering bidding for other events.

Ashgabat 2017 and its Main Objectives

Strategic Objectives Details
Soft Image Turkmenistan’s objectives are not only 2017. It has strategic orientation too. It will expand and increase its soft image among the nations.
Showcasing of International Facilities & Infrastructures The construction of the Olympic Village will further enhance its international compatibility for any future international sports event.

Strategic Utility of Sports

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Sports have strategic utility with so many positive spillover effects. Right from the beginning to modern world of power politics, sports always produce “feel-good” element. People feel connected and competitive. It has already diverted so many conflicts and introduced community development in so many countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America in the past. It has still and more powerful kinetic energy to tame minds and people alike.

The United States of America (USA) president Richard Nixon’s use of table tennis to initiate diplomatic relations with China in Cold War era, known as “Ping- Pong diplomacy” proved valuable and succeeded to reduce tensions between the two countries in the past.

Sport raises mutual understanding and promotes peace in international relations. Sport exchanges have been served as a way to identify other states and their people, and furthermore, to overcome prejudice against each other. As a result, sports exchange between states often have used as a tool of public diplomacy, considering that the aim of public diplomacy is also to see to foster mutual understanding. On its part, Turkmenistan is also on right path and Ashgabat 2017 is a giant leap.

Sports Diplomacy: Successful Cases Studies

The past 40 years have clearly demonstrated the increasing power of sports to transcend differences of race, religion, and national origin and unite people across borders.

1. Effective Tool for Peace, Reconciliation and Development

Sport has been used as a tool to actively promote peace, reconciliation and development in the past few years. Several projects have been set up in the Balkans, the Middle East, West and Central Africa, Sri Lanka and South America in order to improve social relationships between divided peoples. It promotes closer dialogue and integration in multicultural societies. It fosters peaceful relations at the international level. On its part, having neutrality status Turkmenistan is on right path and Ashgabat 2017 is giant leap to further strengthening of peace and harmony in the region and beyond.

2. Persuasion of Social Justice, Respect of Human Rights & Gender Equality

Sports diplomacy pursues social justice. It enhances respect of human rights and gender equality and the fight against racism, discrimination and homophobia. It promotes micro-connectivity. For instance, a project in South Africa tries to cut down armed gang violence through physical activity and games. The latter were designed to work as a peaceful communication platform. The Republic of Turkmenistan has been staunch supporter of human rights, gender equality and the last but not the least sustained social justice and hopefully Ashgabat 2017 will further strengthening its flight/drive towards a fairer, free and stable socio-economic-politico society and people’s friendly governance.

A cricket tournament held monthly or annually between Tamils and Sinhalese will not heal their wounds, but will somehow contribute to the overall peace architecture.

3. Magic of Conflict Resolution

Sports are increasingly used as a tool of reconciliation, as their influence is growing throughout the world. Sports have helped and still help to relieve tensions in conflicting areas on many occasions. For instance, British and German soldiers temporarily stopped the battles on Christmas Eve, 1914. They called for a truce and played a football game in no man’s land. In 1969, a three-day cease-fire occurred in Nigeria after Pele’s arrival in Lagos. More recently, Didier Drogba campaigned against the civil war in Ivory Coast and an agreement was reached in 2006. Being a permeant status of “Neutrality” the Republic of Turkmenistan would be further strengthened its soft image, commercial diplomacy, regional connectivity, national drive of stable and sustainable social development.

4. Widen Opportunities for National Reconciliation & Potential Reunification

Sports open opportunities for national reconciliation and potential reunification. The football team of Ivory Coast was made up of players from both parts of the divided country when it competed in the 2006 African Cup of Nations. As such, the squad was recognized as a symbol of reconciliation and the broad support gained all over the country helped to resume peace talks. In 2000, many people hoped for a better future in the Korean peninsula as 180 athletes and officials marched together under the same flag in the Olympic stadium in Sydney.

5. Showcasing of Socio-Economic Prosperity & Industrial Revolution

China before the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 was known throughout the world as an economic power. The government used the game to show industrial potential of the country.

6. Tangible Financial Benefits

Major sporting events bring also a tangible financial benefit to the host country. According to estimates of the UK Ministry of Trade and Investment by 2020 the country will receive from the Games revenue of 28 to 41 billion Pounds. In addition to this, the country received 1.5 billion Pounds from the participation of local companies in the biggest sporting events in other countries, such as the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the FIFA World Cup 2014 and 2018, the summer Olympic 2016 in Brazil.

The success of the Olympic Games in the organizational plan benefits the country not only in terms of the image but also in terms of contracts related to sports fields, as experience of successful games cannot be overlooked. Hopefully, the Republic of Turkmenistan will be finically benefitted after Ashgabat 2017.

7. Re-Initiation of Dialogues

Sport helped to re-initiate dialogues when other channels were struggling:

a. Table tennis set the stage for the resumption of diplomatic ties between China and the USA in 1971.
b. North and South Korea merged their athletes into a common team for the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games
c. Today, Israeli and Palestinian children regularly come together to play soccer or basketball

8. Powerful Tool for healing Conflicted Relationships

Sports diplomacy is a powerful tool for healing conflicted relationships over time. Its power is illustrated by the successful relationship between Iranian and American wrestlers that began in the 1990s. The Iranian and American wrestlers were citizen diplomats who, through sports, were able to touch deep-seated feelings. In the process, they demonstrated an alternative model for how their two countries could interact.

9. Optimal Utility of Sports Diplomacy in Asia

Asia has a stronger tradition of using Sports Diplomacy than other regions of the world. For years, North and South Korea have followed a path to détente using Sports Diplomacy facilitated by South Korean corporations. Song Ho Gyong, vice chairman of North Korea’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee and leader of a sports delegation to South Korea, hailed inter-Korean basketball matches as “good opportunities” that bring the two countries closer to unification.

Cricket is a new instrument of diplomacy to bring people and countries together and ease tensions in the Indian subcontinent. The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Mufti Muhammed Sayeed, has asked the United Nations to use sports to promote peace and development in an increasingly volatile world.

After initiating a popular series of trans-boundary cricket matches, India and Pakistan expressed interest in creating a “soft border” in Kashmir. In a significant coming together, Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said they would work towards this “soft border ”in Kashmir to open meeting points for divided families and boost trade, travel and cooperation across the frontier.

10. Shared Cultural Passion

Sports are a shared cultural passion that brings people together in athletic competition across the divisions of race, religion, and politics. Through sports the proliferation of messages of international understanding, cultural tolerance and mutual respect.

The India-Pakistan episode of cricket-diplomacy suggested that sports-diplomacy had strong potential. Individuals are excited about its prospects.

Concluding Remarks

The Republic of Turkmenistan is a great sporting nation. Its passion for sports is remarkable which shows its genuine national qualities of determination, courage, competition, purity of human shared values and above all will to excel and fight against all odds to achieve its desired goals and dreams.

Sports diplomacy uses the universal passion for sports as a way to transcend linguistic and sociocultural differences and bring people together. Participation in sports teaches leadership, teamwork, and communication skills that help young people succeed. The Ashgabat 2017 will be an ideal opportunity for Turkmenistan to further strengthen its neutrality status for achieving its desired goals of sustained socio-economic prosperity, greater inflows of FDIs, joint ventures, cooperation and collaboration in the diversified fields of production and survival.

Ashgabat 2017 is considered to be an excellent opportunity to show the world the progress of Turkmenistan, achieved under the leadership of President of Turkmenistan Honorable Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in sports and economy, cultural and humanitarian area and other parts of political and social life.

It will contribute to increasing of international prestige of Turkmenistan. It is an important step to the integration into the international sports movement. It will be helpful for establishing of the atmosphere of trust and sympathy in the region and the world. It will also stimulate the national economy, cultural life and tourism industry.

The world has moved into an era of “complex interdependence”, characterized by “multiple channels” between societies, including both state and non-state channels, such that ‘military security does not consistently dominate the agenda. Now effective sports diplomacy is as good to pursue and secure desired goals of greater connectivity. On its part, the Republic of Turkmenistan plays very important role to integrate new minds, ideas and opportunities to achieve desired targets and dreams.

Sports are a good medium, by playing mediating and pivotal role in inter-state relations. Attaching sports to the scope of international relations would be a helpful to boost the size of diplomacy.

Ashgabat 2017 is the total sum of infinite efforts of President of Turkmenistan Esteemed Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, great successes are achieved at all sectors of its national economy. Sport facilities and school are constructed at various places of the country. It inspires people, especially developing young generation to do sports in order to become physically and mentally healthy individuals. Sports prestige of Turkmenistan in international arena increases day by day and hopefully it will be beyond Mars after Ashgabat 2017.

The motto of Ashgabat 2017 games is selected as “Health. Inspiration and Friendship”. It inspires from the words “Turkmenistan the country’s health and high spirits”. This motto has an important place in the daily life of Turkmen People. 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games will guarantee the further increase of international sports prestige of Turkmenistan and inspiration of young generation to do sports.

Today sport is one of the most important components of human activity. Sport as a phenomenon is truly global in nature, with the largest international events, such as the Olympic Games and the World Cup with its billionth TV auditory. Sports language is universal. It unites people across the globe, regardless of color, confession, sex and age. On its part, Turkmenistan is playing an important part to unit people; integrate ideas and minds through 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.

The level of development of sports and physical culture are criteria to judge on the standard of living and well-being of the population of a country. Turkmenistan is an indeed a sport nation where people love sports. Sport is one of the instruments of influence on public opinion, which in the era of globalization plays a key role in international collaboration.

Sport is a universal language that can be a powerful vehicle to promote peace, tolerance and understanding. Through its power to bring people together across boundaries, cultures and religions, it can promote tolerance, reconciliation and cooperation.

On a communication level, sport can be used as an effective delivery mechanism for education about peace, tolerance, and respect for opponents, regardless of ethnic, cultural, religious or other differences. Its inclusive nature makes sport a good tool to increase knowledge, understanding and awareness about peaceful co-existence.

Moreover, sport and physical education teach essential values and life skills including self-confidence, teamwork, communication, inclusion, discipline, respect and fair play. Turkmenistan’s national policy of sports is the combination of all these holy qualities.

Sport as a universal language has been found to bridge social, religious, racial, and gender divides, hence contributing to lasting peace and is an important way to achieve the Millennium Development Goals too.

The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) will be held in Ashgabat in 2017. The Republic of Turkmenistan will be the first Central Asian country to hold it. The 5th AIMAG will take place in its newly built Olympic Village, a multi-purpose sports facility which is now ready to mesmerize the people. Its Neutrality Status does not mean isolation but it further enhances integration, development, share values of humanity, production, survival and above all peace and harmony in and beyond region. Its selected motto “Sagdynlyk. Ruhubelentlik. Dostluk.” ™, “Health. Inspiration. Friendship.”, “Здоровье. Воодушевление. Дружба.”(гиз) shows its strong commitments towards regional integration based on healthy competition, inspiration and friendship.

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