Ashgabat 2017 received praise following a Coordination Commission meeting here today ©OCA

As many as 21 sports could feature at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games here in 2017, with 19 officially confirmed at a Coordination Commission meeting today at which preparations were widely praised.

Indoor athletics, basketball, track cycling, short-course swimming, bowling, futsal and tennis were among those finalised for a Games where the 45 Asian National Olympic Committees will be joined by 18 from Oceania.

As expected, there will also be a hefty combat sport presence, with muay thai, weightlifting, ju-jitsu, sambo, kickboxing and taekwondo contested.

There will also be three-forms of wrestling, with traditional and belt forms to be held as well as the freestyle and Greco-Roman varieties on the Olympic programme.

Chess, billiards sports and dance sport are other sports to be formally approved while two more - showjumping and kurash - were proposed by organisers and will now be considered further by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), although Ashgabat 2017 have told insidethegames of their confidence that all 21 will ultimately be approved. 

This should represent a vastly extended edition of the Games following a 2013 event in Incheon in which just 12 sports were showcased.

Organisers were praised during the meeting after their preparations so far, including for work on the infrastructure and venues and for Government support.

Their main challenge consists of "soft" factors ahead of the Games, predominantly relating to logistical matters such as Games-time services, volunteers and IT and technical issues.
Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah (centre) also praised preparation for Ashgabat 2017 following his arrival here last night ©OCA
Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah (centre) also praised preparation for Ashgabat 2017 following his arrival here last night ©OCA

OCA director general Husain Al-Musallam told insidethegames afterwards how they hoped experienced international officials will be recruited to help Turkmenistan organisers gain valuable experience.

But, following the decision to strip Sri Lanka of the 2017 Asian Youth Games earlier this year following a raft of problems, the OCA are delighted there appears to be no prospect of something similar happening here.

Indeed, the beauty and lavishness of many of the already-completed venues, all of which are constructed out of a striking white marble typical of the city, has received much praise by delegates arriving here today ahead of the OCA General Assembly.

Following his arrival here last night, OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah opened two new hotels in the Olympic Complex, with both being used by delegates this week.

With hundreds of young athletes and cultural performers greeting him, he opened first the Sport Hotel and then the Olympiya Hotel here, as a colourful and carnival atmosphere was conveyed which they will hope to replicate in two years time.

Dancers performing ahead of the opening of the two hotels today in Ashgabat ©OCA
Dancers performing ahead of the opening of the two hotels today in Ashgabat ©OCA

“Every time we come back here we witness new progress, and a lot of the facilities that were in the planning stage have become a reality,” the Kuwaiti said.

“This is especially appropriate with the airport, and we hope that in 2017 for the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games this new airport will receive us.

“President Gurbanguly also considers education and youth alongside sport, and the Olympic Village that is being built for the Games will accommodate students from all over the country, so this generation is being well looked after for the future.”

Attention will turn to OCA matters tomorrow with an Executive Council meeting here, with future editions of the Asian and Asian Youth Games up for debate.

The Assembly will be formally opened by Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov tomorrow evening before beginning on Wednesday (September 16).

Among items on the agenda will be a Presidential Election, although no candidate is expected to challenge Sheikh Ahmad, who should therefore continue a role he has already served for 24 years since 1991.

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