OCA President hails 'best ever' AIMAG at Ashgabat 2017 closing ceremony
28 September, 2017 (16:30)
The President of Turkmenistan, His Excellency Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, brought the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to a close in a party atmosphere at the Ashgabat Olympic Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The games, which were awarded to Ashgabat by the Olympic Council of Asia in 2010, opened on September 17 and have involved 6,000 athletes and officials from 65 teams – 45 from the OCA, 19 from Oceania and the African Refugee Team.
Thirteen of the 15 competition venues for the 21 sports were located in the Ashgabat Olympic Complex, and the 45,000-capacity Ashgabat Olympic Stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremony.
The closing ceremony began with the arrival of the athletes, before the OCA President, HE Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, addressed the audience.
He said the success of the games would not have been possible without the “vision and day-to-day involvement” of President Berdimuhamedov.
“This has been a wonderful journey for all of us,” he said. “Thank you for inviting us to your country and your capital Ashgabat. Congratulations on the best ever Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games!
“This is the end of the games. But it is not the end of our friendship and partnership. Ashgabat – we will see you again. We love you,” said Sheikh Ahmad, to cheers from a full house.
Sheikh Ahmad described the venues as “world-class”, and said he was convinced that Ashgabat had the capability to host more major international events.
“The games have been an outstanding success,” he said. “We have witnessed a special games in a special city and will go home with special memories.”
Sheikh Ahmad also thanked the 8,000 yellow-shirted volunteers for their support and said they had been the smiling and hospitable face of the games, the city and of Turkmenistan.
President Berdimuhamedov then declared the games closed, and the flame in the cauldron behind the giant statue of a horse’s head overlooking the stadium slowly faded away.
The rest of the evening was filled by a short cultural performance before the stadium was transformed into a pop concert with acts from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Lebanon and Turkey, as well as from the British pop star John Newman, best known for the track “Love Me Again”.
The closing ceremony ended with an extravagant fireworks display before President Berdimuhamedov waved to the crowd from the VIP balcony and left the stadium alongside Sheikh Ahmad.