Ashgabat 2017: The Pearl of Central Asia as a World Sports Hub

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Turkmenistan is famous of its love of sports and sportsmanship in the world. The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games will be held in Ashgabat, the pearl of Asia. Turkmenistan is the first country in the region which is going to host these games during September 2017. For the first time, guests from 62 countries, including 45 in Asia and 17 in the Pacific, will be received. Turkmenistan is famous for its sports and sportsmanship and the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games will contribute greatly to the growth of international sports, the prestige of Turkmenistan and will also increase the popularity of different kinds of sport in Turkmenistan. It will bring unique knowledge, skills and experiences, as well as encouraging the development of patriotic feelings and engaging young generations in sports and volunteer movements.

The motto of the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games is “Health, Inspiration, and Friendship”. It aims to reflect the inner feelings of the Turkmen people, their peacefulness, their devotion to sports and their love of their independent and neutral fatherland.

The 5th AIMAG will take place in the Olympic Village, a multi-purpose sports facility which is being constructed in Ashgabat. This complex includes over 30 different facilities, including competition venues, accommodation, transportation and other infrastructures. In January 2013 President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov established the Organising Committee for the preparation of the Games.

With great vision, the Ashgabat Olympic Complex has been designed and built to provide not only the best sporting venues for a broad range of sports, but also first class spectator facilities and services and a level of Broadcast and Media infrastructure which is unparalleled in the region and possibly the world.

Chess, Futsal, Tennis, Muaythai, Sambo, Kurash, Jiu Jitsu, Bowling, Cycling (track), Swimming, Indoor Athletics, Weightlifting (Powerlifting), Basketball, Taekwondo (WTF), Dance Sport, Kickboxing, Belt Wrestling, Wrestling (FS/Greco Roman) and Cue Sport (Billiards and Snooker) have been selected/included for this games.

It will be a historic moment for Turkmenistan, as Ashgabat 2017 will be the first major multi-sport event to be hosted in Turkmenistan. The vision after these games will be for the city of Ashgabat and the wider country to host future major sporting events at an international level. Diversified but integrated activities are in full swing throughout the country for the successful hosting of 5th AIMAG. H.E. Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov is taking keen interest in the preparations of 5th AIMAG.

In 2010, the Olympic Council of Asia, the National Olympic Committee of Turkmenistan and the administration of Ashgabat city signed an agreement to stage the 5th Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games in September 2017.

In addition to Asian countries, for the first time in the history of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, Oceania was also included in the Games, bringing the participating countries to 62.

The Ashgabat 2017 brand has been created which is based on its traditional design. It represents Turkmenistan’s journey from the past to the future through health, inspiration, friendship along the great Silk Road. Moreover, the Ashgabat 2017 Mascot is based on the Turkmen national animal the Alabai. It is a fun and endearing character who will help to spread the message of the games and welcome people of all ages to Turkmenistan.

The concept of these games is to promote the ideas of peace and humanism in contemporary world and society, the principles of good neighborliness, friendship and brotherhood among people, as well as the unifying and consolidating role of sport.

Ashgabat Olympic Complex is media friendly and broadcasting from the Ashgabat Olympic Complex has been made easy by the clever design and construction of technical infrastructure. It allows broadcasters to use the facilities at many venues without the need to bring in large broadcast vans, which is the most common method, but to simply plug necessary equipment into the to the permanent circuits in the complex, and, using the integrated production studios, to broadcast live in Turkmenistan or internationally. This is leading edge thinking and technology.

The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games Athletes’ Village, which will host around 5500 athletes, 1,750 team officials, over 700 dignitaries, 1,170 technical officials, will also be located within the Olympic Complex, is only a short walk from most the competition and training venues. Two 5 star hotels are also based on the complex and will host 800 members of the OCA family, 350 members of the press and 600 Broadcasters.

All volunteers at 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games will be university students and the majority will be between the ages of 18-22 however there will be a few exceptions including a youth programme (16-18 year olds) which will be via the National Federations of Turkmenistan.

In preparation to host the first international multi-sport event to take place in Turkmenistan, the Ashgabat 2017 Executive Committee will hold a Games Academy for existing employees and new recruits. It is an innovative recruitment and development programme for Turkmen nationals. The Games Academy Learning Programme will develop the skills and Games knowledge of the Executive Committee’s employees as part of a lasting legacy to develop sports events leaders of the future.

The Games Academy will recruit 400 people to fulfil key roles within the Executive Committee, who will be mentored by leading international experts and receive on- the-job training in the planning and operations involved in delivering a major event

Most recently, the Turkmenistan’s National Institute of Sport and Tourism hosted the Conference entitled “Asiada-2017: Health, Inspiration, Friendship”. The meeting was organized as part of the preparation for the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. It was attended by the representatives of the State Committee for Sports, the National Olympic Committee, lecturers from universities, media workers, top athletes and coaches.

It was preceded by demonstration of more than 20 sports included in the program of integrated competitions of continental level. It comprised of 3 sections that focused on sports reforms in Turkmenistan and international experience in that area; innovative technologies in elite sports, as well as the role of Asiada-2017 in developing tourism. It highlighted importance and success of
large scale events. It discussed role of modeling of the project of sports facilities. It showcased integrated work in preparation for competitions through well organized and regular testing process and thematic trainings for volunteers and sports professionals. It gave confidence that the forthcoming complex continental level Games in September would be held at the highest organizational level.

Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with other government organizations has developed a comprehensive action Plan aimed at broad familiarization of the world community with the present of country, its achievements and successes as well as 2017 Asian Games. Cooperation with such popular TV channels as Euronews, Chinese CCTV, Russia 24 is stipulated for realization of program measures. It is suggested to include topical video, advertisements, special reports and TV shows dedicated to 2017 Asian Games into time-table of these channels. Active involvement of web resources of national electronic media, international Olympic committees and sport federations as well as opportunities of social networks is also planned.

Great importance in comprehensive coverage of Asian Games is given to presentations, the series of which is planned to demonstrate during such large events as Asian Winter Olympics in Sapporo (Japan) in February, International Winter University Games in Alamaty (Kazakhstan) in January-February, Islamic Sport Games in Baku (Azerbaijan) in July and other. Organizations of exhibitions and presentations dedicated to Asian Games in headquarters of the UN in New York and Geneva are in the same row. Turkmenistan’s embassies in the world are rigorously engaged with local mass media outlets to project the upcoming mega sport event i.e. 5th AIMAG. Its embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan arranged a media briefing about5th AIMAG where H.E. Atajan Movlamov Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Turkmenistan briefed about the5th AIMAG and other associated topics.

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