Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has arrived here in Turkmenistan’s capital to attend the fifth edition of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG).
Sheikh Ahmad, who was re-elected an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member for another eight years as the 131st IOC Session concluded in Lima yesterday, viewed some competition venues during his journey from the Ashgabat International Airport to the Olympia Hotel.
He confirmed on Monday (September 11) he would miss the IOC Session in Peru’s capital to travel to Turkmenistan.
It came a day after insidethegames had revealed that Sheikh Ahmad had told IOC President Thomas Bach he believed he needed to be in Ashgabat to finalise preparations for the AIMAG, which is due to officially begin tomorrow.
The Games are expected to be attended by 6,000 athletes from 65 countries from Asia and Oceania competing in 21 sports.
It is the first time that so many National Olympic Committees from Oceania have competed in a major event organised by the OCA.
"Up to 20 heads of state are attending AIMAG 2017 and will be arriving from September 15, so it is natural for Sheikh Ahmad to join Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow to welcome them all," the OCA said in a statement.
OCA officials insist that Sheikh Ahmad's reason for not going to Lima was not connected to an inquiry in the United States linking him to allegations of fraud.
He resigned from FIFA's ruling Council in April a day after he was identified as a co-conspirator by the United States Department of Justice in the case involving Richard Lai, the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee member banned for bribery.
Lai admitted taking $950,000 (£699,000/€795,000) in bribes in a US court but Sheikh Ahmad has "vigorously" denied any wrongdoing and is confident of being cleared.