neweurasia is not crazy — Turkmenistan really is building an Olympic Village
Editor’s note: Turkmenistan is pressing ahead with its bizarre Olympic Village, but now with the apparent approval of many international sports figures, including some from international Olympic officialdom. neweurasia’s Annasoltan reports.
In October, I reported on the Turkmen government’s intentions to build an Olympic Village despite the fact that the country has not been shortlisted for the Olympics during the next 28 years. Registan.net‘s Michael Hancock raised an important doubt:
Having read the [official Turkmen press release, "City of Olympic Wonders", from 12.09.2010], there’s no clear connection between this building project and the actual International Olympics. While the name of the various buildings of the complex revolve around the Olympics, I don’t think anyone is supposed to think they actually expect the Olympics to just show up.
Actually, according to the official media, that’s sort of what happened last week.
The Turkmen government conducted a lavish groundbreaking ceremony last week. Even if the official international Olympics committee didn’t show up, they were certainly well-represented anyway:
The guests of honour represented the international sports community. They were the heads of the major sports organisations, specialists in construction of sports facilities, renowned athletes and coaches, world and Olympic champions, members of the National Olympic Committees of Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, numerous foreign journalists.
These guests included Patrick McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union, which is a member of the International Olympic Committee. If some readers don’t believe me — and I think skepticism is actually only proof of your sanity, considering the unreality of Turkmenistan — the Union itself has issued an online press release with a photo of McQuaid shaking hands with Berdimuhammedov (look at the photo on the right).
The President of the International Cycling Union (UCI), Pat McQuaid, spent three days in Turkmenistan last week, where he attended celebrations of a new Olympic project in the country’s capital Ashgabat.
Mr McQuaid was present for the laying of the foundation stone for the planned Olympic Park which, once completed in 2017, will feature facilities for nearly all the Olympic sports, plus housing for 12,000 people.
During the ceremonies on Friday November 5th, Mr McQuaid and the President of the Russian Cycling Federation, Mr Igor Makarov, presented Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov with a bicycle.
Addressing the 4,000-strong audience packed into the temporary arena, Mr McQuaid said the UCI was impressed by the changes taking place in Turkmenistan.
“I look forward one day to returning to Ashgabat to attend an Olympic Games in these facilities,” he said.
During his visit to Turkmenistan, Mr McQuaid also had discussions with the National Olympic Committee about setting up a National Cycling Centre, a project proposed and supported by Mr Berdymukhamedov.
The official Turkmen media has been generous enough to provide its own list of other illustrious sports figures who attended the event, many of whom are cyclists.
[...] Dr. Santiparb Pantija Wanija, Advisor to the President of the Olympic Council of Asia and Igor Makarov, CEO of the Itera International Group of companies, who had been recently appointed Chairman of the Russian Cycling Federation. In conclusion the Russian businessman said that he would donate thirty racing bicycles of the latest model to Turkmen sportsmen and a racing bicycle to the initiator of the construction of the Olympic Village in Ashgabat, the President of Turkmenistan.
For readers who still don’t believe me, here are some images for you: a satellite image from Google of the Olympic Stadium–look closely at the grounds around it, because there is definitely a lot of space to build!–and five are from the Turkmen government itself: their vision of Olympic greatness that is more than just metaphorical. (Hancock also raised the question of financing. The answer is probably in Turkey.)