Int’l sports media forum concludes

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The inaugural Turkmenistan International Sports Media Forum (TISMF) 2013 came to a close after a tour of Ashgabat’s Olympic Complex being developed in the in the country’s capital, Ashgabat. The development will host the fifth Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in 2017.

The AIMAG 2017 will see 17 different sport competitions take place over 11 days – with an expected 5,000 athletes from 62 different countries competing at the Complex’s brand new, state-of-the-art venues.

Bhutan also took part in the 4th Asian Indoor & Martial Art Games, and took part in futsal earlier this year. The Bhutanese futsal national team lost 29-1 to Thailand in their opening match in Korea this year. Bhutan joined the Asian Indoor Games for the first time in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2009.  There were just three martial art participants, and none received any medals.

High-profile guests and the world’s leading sports journalists first visited the Complex’s luxury media hotel, before touring the Small Indoor Arena which has 5,000 seats, whilst the Large Indoor Arena has a 15,000 capacity. The media then enjoyed spectacular views of Ashgabat, the capital city of 52nd-largest country in the world, from the comfort of the Complex’s three story restaurant before finishing the tour at the site’s iconic Velodrome (6,000 seats).

TISMF 2013 Registration of delegates and opening ceremony
TISMF 2013 Registration of delegates and opening ceremony (Picture courtesy: TISMF)

The Chairman of the State Committee of Turkmenistan for Sport, Batyr Orazov, said, this has been a much-anticipated project as everybody looks ahead to the AIMAG 2017; But this development will serve for much longer than these games – we hope to host many future international sporting events here.

“The building of Ashgabat’s Olympic Complex is just the beginning for hosting international sport in Turkmenistan”, he excitedly said in front of international media representatives, where all the local journalists from the complete-government-owned media houses were also witnessing the event.

According to organizers, TISMF was the initiative of president of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhamedow, 56, a dentist by profession, who is serving as the head of state and the government since 2006.

TIMSF delegates (Picture courtesy: TIMSF)
TIMSF delegates (Picture courtesy: TIMSF)

Project Coordinator of the Ashgabat Olympic Complex construction project, Osman Karakus of Polimeks, the Turkish construction company developing the Complex, commented that “the Olympic Complex is a purpose built area with modern, state-of-the-art facilities which athletes will look forward to performing in 2017″.

Ashgabat’s Olympic Complex is made up of 15 venues, including two indoor arenas, a velodrome, an indoor athletics facility, tennis centre and an aquatic centre. “An athletes’ village is also being built, and is set to contain 12,000 beds once completed. Already 400,000 km of cabling has been laid under the complex and the 800-room luxury media hotel is already 80% complete”, a press release issued on behalf of the TISMF read.

Around 40 sports media from 23 different countries attended the Forum to hear a range of high profile speakers and view the city’s impressive new iconic sports facilities. Speakers include Gianni Merlo, President of AIPS, and Michael Cole, Former London 2012 Marketing and Communications Director for BT Global Services.

Delivering a keynote address Gianni Merlo, the President of International Sports Press Association (AIPS), commented that these were exciting times for sport in Turkmenistan. AIPS is well placed to help emerging nations use sport as a way of communicating internationally, he assured.

In an exclusive interview, yet to be published, with the Bhutan News Service in Ashgabat, AIPS President Merlo mentioned that refugees also have right to sports and announced of support from AIPS to those journalists in exile from Bhutan who really want to enhance their capacity and skill in sports journalism.

International media are also joined by 80 foreign correspondents and local media for the Forum’s discussions, which focussed on best practice in media operations ahead of a central Asian country with world’s fourth largest reserves of natural gas resources– Turkmenistan hosting their first ever major international sporting event, the AIMAG 2017.

Players desmonstrate in the opening ceremony of the forum (Picture courtesy: TIMSF)
Players desmonstrate in the forum (Picture courtesy: TIMSF)

Chairman of the State Committee of Turkmenistan for Sport Orazov said, “Sharing best practice with so many media from the sports world and receiving the benefit of their experience ahead of hosting the AIMAG 2017.”

Other presentations were delivered by Acting Communications Director of the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee, Masa Takaya; Director of Pearce International, Jayne Pearce; Editorial Director of SportBusiness, Kevin Roberts; Founder and Editor of insidethegames.biz, Duncan Mackay; Special Advisor at Arup Major Events Consulting, Erik G. Andersen; Advisor of the Sport Department at the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), Patrick Furlong; and Founder and Chairman of JTA, Jon Tibbs.

In 1924, Turkmenistan became a constituent republic of the then Soviet Union, Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic (Turkmen SSR); it became independent upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

A cultural visit to the nearby ancient city of Nisa, traditional performances, carpet museum, and a tour of Ashgabat city were also included for the media delegates.

Dhungel is BNS Consulting Editor and is based in Kathmandu, Nepal