Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, September 17, 2017: The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games opened in a dazzling blaze of pomp and pageantry on Sunday, celebrating Turkmenistan’s ancient history as well as its recent economic success to a worldwide audience estimated at more than a billion people.
In keeping with tradition, the Games were declared open by the host nation's head of state, Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, who spoke passionately about his country’s commitment to ensuring the success of the Games and ongoing pledge to promote Olympic sport in central Asia.
He was followed on the podium by The OCA President, H.E. Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, who said he had no doubt the Ashgabat Games would a brilliant success after he had witnessed President Berdimuhamedov’s personal involvement in overseeing the development of the spectacular $5 billion complex that will stage the 21 sports.
“I have followed the preparations very closely since the OCA awarded the Games to Ashgabat in 2010,” Sheikh Ahmad said. “Mr. President has been a dynamic and passionate leader during this time. He has supervised the preparations every step of the way to make sure Ashgabat has provided world-class sports venues and a perfect environment for our athletes.”
Around 45,000 spectators filed into the gleaming new stadium for the three and a half hour multi-million-dollar show which featured a parade of athletes from 65 countries, including 19 from Oceania, competing for the first time, as well as a team of refugees. Led by Afghanistan, the parade showcased the eclectic group that make up the world’s most populated and diverse region, before finishing with Turkmenistan, whose arrival into the stadium triggered wild applause.
The show also tracked the country’s rich history and culture as well as showcasing its rapid recent transformation with some of the best special effects seen at any multi-sports ceremony. "I am sure we are about to witness a truly spectacular and successful Games,” Sheikh Ahmad said.
“It is a great pleasure for us to welcome our athletes from the continent of Oceania, who are competing for the first time.“As a sports family we have an obligation to ensure that sports can reach every society.” It all, thousands of performers combined to create an unforgettable show that ended with wrestler Rejepaly Orazalyyev reciting the Athletes Oath.
Then a horseman, mounted on a white Akhal-Teke stallion, Turkmenistan’s national emblem, lit the cauldron, which was situated on a 600-tonne horse’s head above the stadium, and triggering a fireworks show that illuminated the night sky in the perfect start for 10 more days of intense competition.