Ashgabat, 19 September 2017 (nCa) — The V Indoor and Martial Arts Games – officially called Ashgabat 2017 – started with grandeur and fanfare on 17 September 2017. The opening ceremony was like none seen before.
Nearly four years in preparation, it was an expensive enterprise, financially as well as in terms of massive planning and hard work.
The Olympic Village in Ashgabat, which is the venue of the Games, cost some USD 5 billion and took several years to complete.
Thousands of people worked unbelievably long hours and, as the Games approached, at breakneck speed, to give precision and elegance to the end product – the Games including the opening and the closing ceremonies.
Questions have been raised by certain quarters whether it was advisable for Turkmenistan to host the Games that have absorbed immense monetary and human resources.
Such questions are legitimate and need to be answered impartially.
Before attempting to answer any questions about the advisability to host the Games it is important to point out that such questions take birth only in the environment of a certain mindset; a mindset that is rigidly structured under certain perceptions, a mindset that somehow believes that things can exist in isolation – as if every single event have a unique bubble of its own.
A soundly built mind looks at the things differently.
Let’s step back from Ashgabat 2017 for a minute and try to find the rationale behind hosting any international sporting event by any country.
Lately it has been fashionable to assert that the international sporting events are an unnecessary drain on the national exchequer and hardly worth the effort. Some countries have actually declined to bid for the sporting events.
On the other hand, there is still the keenness to be the next host of the mega sports affair. For instance, the summer Olympics 2024 have been assigned to Paris, and Olympics 2028 to Los Angeles already.
Clearly, the financial return, if any, is not the main attraction when a country prepares its bid to host any games. Gone are the days when the foreign tourists and spectators could more than offset the cost of the games.
The main force behind the whole culture of international games is the human nature. —— We as humans are designed to be competitive and, therefore, combative.
The international sporting events provide the setting to vent our urge to compete and win, under strict rules that are enforced diligently. By doing so, we are achieving several goals: 1. The youth learn the value of fair competition and rule of law; 2. Friendship and understanding develops among the people of different countries and nations; 3. People learn to deal with their defeats, their failures, and use the setback for future successes.
Another aspect, more noticeable in the recent decades, is that we are now competing with extremists and terrorists for the hearts and minds of certain segments of the youth. When they are young and impressionable, and full of expendable energy and raging hormones, the teenagers are shopping for ideologies and ways of life. They are also looking for acceptance and companionship.
The international sporting events – and the continuous preparation that is required for participation in them – provide a comprehensive package to the youth, complete with the promise of a wide circle of friends, not just acceptance but recognition at the national and international level, and many other rewards. There is also plenty to satisfy the need to share everything on the social media.
These are just some of the reasons why the international sporting events cannot be evaluated on the basis of cost versus profit.
With this in mind, let’s return to Ashgabat 2017.
The Games – Ashgabat 2017 – and Turkmenistan have given mutual boost to each other. The profile of Turkmenistan was raised positively on the world map because of the Games. The Games got more visibility and prestige because of the promotion drive led by Turkmenistan. The inclusion of Oceania for the first time in these Games was a big plus, which will bear long term benefits.
These Games, as the name implies, are indoor and martial arts games. They are free of the rotation of the seasons. As opposed to Olympics, they are not divided into summer and winter sections. This is an all-weather event. Moreover, all of the 21 categories in these Games can be pursued individually or by small teams. To practice and excel in them doesn’t require lots of money or expensive facilities. They are truly sports of mass appeal.
By promoting these Games, Turkmenistan rendered great service to every individual anywhere in the world who looks at sports as a means of practicing a healthy lifestyle.
For the opening ceremony of the Games, eight heads of foreign states and dozens of high level delegations traveled to Ashgabat. The president of Turkmenistan had separate meetings with every head of state. There were literally hundreds of meetings at all levels, bilaterally with Turkmenistan and among the visiting delegations. As such, the Games proved to be a venue for bustling diplomatic consultations. What has been achieved just before, during, and after the opening ceremony of the Games, would have otherwise required a number of summits and meetings in different formats. Lot of time and effort has been saved because everyone happened to be in Ashgabat at the same time. Moreover, the jolly atmosphere of the Games provided very conducive setting for pleasant and productive interaction.
An independently important feature is the thousands of volunteers who contributed hugely to the success of the opening ceremony of the Games. They went through months of training which included some proficiency in foreign languages, maintenance of cheerful disposition that at times requires lots of patience and tact, and the confidence in interacting with the foreigners. The volunteers were the students of the universities and institutes of Turkmenistan. As they enter the practical life, their experience during the Games will keep benefiting them in so many different ways.
To be continued . . . /// nCa