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President of Turkmenistan and OCA President speak at international sport for peace and development conference hosted in Awaza

10 April, 2017 (14:52)
Source: Olympic Council of Asia

The ‘AIMAG – 2017: Cooperation in international sport for peace and development’ conference was held in Awaza on Friday 7 April. Addressing the opening session of the conference at the new tourist zone of Awaza on the Caspian Sea on Friday the President of Turkmenistan, His Excellency Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, said he believes the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in the capital Ashgabat this September will write a new page in the history of the Olympic Movement in Asia and Oceania.

“This event will be held for the first time in the history of sport in Central Asia,” he said. “This is a sign of the high confidence shown in Turkmenistan by the international sports community. “The 44 National Olympic Committees of the Olympic Council of Asia will be joined for the first time by athletes from Oceania, and I am confident that the hosting of the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games will open a new page in the history of world sport and will attract the interest of millions of people worldwide.”

The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games will run from 17-27 September, at the new Ashgabat Olympic Complex and will involve around 5,500 athletes from 64 NOCs – 45 from the OCA and 19 from Oceania, including recent additions of Tahiti and New Caledonia. President Berdimuhamedov said the hosting of the event further highlighted the national policy of using sport as a tool to promote international diplomacy and a healthy lifestyle for society, with sports schools being established around the country.

“Sport and the Olympic Movement play a significant role in developing friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation between people,” he added. 

“Athletes are the messengers of the world with their skill and their ideals to promote a healthy lifestyle,” he concluded. “We will make every effort to ensure that the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games will be held at the highest level so all participants will enjoy the hospitality and cordiality of the Turkmen land.”

The OCA President, He Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, also gave a keynote address at the opening ceremony of the congress. He praised the vision of the country’s President in establishing the new Awaza Sports Complex by the Caspian Sea and for contributing to the healthy lifestyle of the population. He said the 5th AIMAG would be the biggest in the history of the OCA and would be unique because the Athletes’ Village was within walking distance of the competition venues in the Olympic Complex.

“With 21 sports we will have one of the richest sports programmes, enabling athletes to take part in sports in the Olympic programme and also in non-Olympic sports. This will make them proud to represent their country and their flag,” said Sheikh Ahmad. “With 500 athletes from 19 Oceania NOCs joining us to make 64 NOCs, we will have almost one-third of the world participating at Ashgabat 2017. The sports facilities, the sports programme and the participation all make these unique games.”

As well as the 21 sports, e-sports will return to the AIMAG programme as a demonstration sport. Sheikh Ahmad said there are over 350 million people playing e-sports in Asia and Oceania, the best of which will participate in a series of online qualification rounds in four e-sports that will be held at national and then regional level in six regions: West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia, plus Oceania.

The six regions will each provide eight qualifiers – two in each game - for the final tournament to be held in Ashgabat, where they will be joined by four Turkmen players to bring the total number of participants to 52. 

Closing his address, Sheikh Ahmad said: “The story of Ashgabat 2017 is ready to start. You have worked for seven years and now there is only the final 100 metres to run.

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