Come 17 September and all roads in the Asia and Oceania region will lead to Turkmenistan for the Ashgabat 2017 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, Central Asia’s biggest-ever sporting extravaganza.
The 12-day Ashgabat 2017 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games is expected to bring together more than 6,000 athletes representing 65 delegations.
With so much riding on its success, organisers have left no stone unturned in their bid to deliver a world-class event.
It will be a moment that will make an entire nation proud and the Chairman of the 5th AIMAG Executive Committee, Dayanch Gulgeldiyev, told PS&AM he believes Turkmenistan is ready.
At what stage would you say preparations are at for Ashgabat 2017?
We are very much putting the final touches to our preparations. We have progressed exactly the way we have planned and we are ready.
We are finalising our processes for accreditation, transport, medical services, anti-doping services, logistics, safety and accommodation.
We are finalising the finer details of the competition schedule as well as the use of training venues within the Ashgabat Olympic Complex and in schools and universities close to it. The Inspiring Ashgabat Test Event Series helped us iron out any kinks in the system. We’re more than confident of delivering a flawless event.
The Ashgabat Olympic Complex and Athletes Village are breathtaking facilities. How do you plan to use them after the event’s completion?
The infrastructure has been developed around the existing Olympic Stadium. Situated at the heart of our capital city, it has over 30 different facilities, including the Athletes Village. We have a long-term plan in mind for its future utilisation.
Turkmenistan is quite serious about hosting other major competitions in our capital city in the future, and to have ready-made facilities will help us in our quest. We are also planning how these facilities could be best used by future generations of athletes so they will be busy for many years to come.
Turkmenistan’s plan to develop a new generation of sports officials, administrators and volunteers is very noble. In what ways do you see Ashgabat 2017 contributing to these efforts?
Ashgabat 2017 will be a catalyst for not only developing the next generation of Turkmen athletes, but it will help us build an army of sports officials and administrators.
We selected 400 young men and women through our Ashgabat 2017 Games Academy which, through a learning and development programme, has equipped them with the confidence to fulfil key roles within the Executive Committee. They’ve been mentored by leading international experts and have received on-the-job training in planning and operations to be capable of delivering this major event.
They’ve been gaining experience in various fields including communications, marketing, ticketing, sport operations, event services, logistics, games services, venue management and accreditation, among others.
What about preparation and training of volunteers?
We’ve been running a very successful volunteers programme called First Stars. It’s the first and biggest-of-its-kind initiative in Turkmenistan.
We have a huge base of 8,000 general and specialist volunteers working for Ashgabat 2017. Turkmen University students make up a major chunk of our volunteer base.
They have stepped forward with enthusiasm, activity and discipline. They proved their capabilities during the Inspiring Ashgabat Test Event Series last April when they displayed great levels of preparation, coordination, creativity and communication skills.
Also, in an effort to gain more international experience, many of our volunteers attended several major sports events in Russia, China, South Korea and Azerbaijan. I’m confident the experience will allow them to succeed at Ashgabat 2017, and Turkmenistan will benefit as a whole for many years to come.
What will be the most attractive aspect of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies?
We’re keeping the programme of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies a closely guarded secret, but I can say the ceremonies will be quite fitting for the region’s biggest-ever competition. We’ve employed the best people in the business to choreograph the event.
Turkmenistan’s long history and rich traditions will undoubtedly form an important part of the narrative. I can promise that they will be occasions that will leave lasting memories for us all.
What is your message to people who will be visiting Turkmenistan for the first time in September?
I would like to welcome everyone to our beautiful country, which is filled with culture, history and tradition. I hope they will get to enjoy the Games as much as we have enjoyed putting it together. I wish them, and their country’s sportsmen and women, a fulfilling stay in Ashgabat.
Image: Ashgabat Olympic Complex courtesy of AIMAG