This is getting ridiculous: Ashgabat builds Olympic village without Olympics
Can the Olympic Games be held without winning the Olympic bid for hosting the games? Well, at least the government’s official newspaper, Turkmenistan the Golden Age, seems to believe so. It claims that, with the planned construction of the new Olympic village set to begin this month in Ashgabat, that capital is going to be “the city of Olympic records”.
The Olympic Village will start operation in 2014. It will be centered around a huge stadium and ice hockey palace, expected to be the largest sports complex in all of Central Asia. According to the government’s own calculations, just this part of the village alone will cost almost $2 million $2 billion and will occupy 157 hectares. Yet, neither Ashgabat, nor any other Turkmen town, are on any of the official candidate lists for summer or winter Olympic games during the next 28 years. This is certainly a very strange twist in the Berdimuhammedov regime’s plans for modernization.
The rationale behind this project is a vague one: to promote in general Turkmen sportsmen’s participation in international sports competitions, as well as to hold sports events involving foreigners. On the one hand, this is indeed consistent with Berdimuhammedov’s attempts to bring athleticism back to Turkmen society, including using sports as a countermeasure to drug addiction and building stadiums in every province, not to mention an ice palace, a hippodrome, and various other facilities. On the other hand, which nation would actually send its sportsmen to Turkmenistan, our isolated and totalitarian nation?
I think this village is either driven by Berdimuhammedov’s penchant for grandiose construction projects, or an absurd cash cow for his friends in the construction industry. The new building of the National Institute of Sports and Tourism, which oversees the humongous Avaza project in addition to the Olympic village, will cost $80 million! “Imagine how many new houses and apartments, rail and bus stations, could be built for that money,” says a friend of mine, alluding to Ashgabat’s notorious urban planning problems.
Author’s note: By the way, Almaty in Kazakhstan lost its bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games to Sochi, Russia; it was a Non-Finalized Candidate City. Meanwhile, Baku lost to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics, having missed the IOC shortlist and being disqualified in June 2008.