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Central Asian Games to be revived in 2021

(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

National Olympic Committees from Central Asia met in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan at the weekend and agreed to revive a regional games in 2021.

The Olympic Council of Asia reported that the meeting was attended by representatives from the NOCs of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Iran. They agreed that reviving the Central Asian Games, which last took place in 2003, would help athletes, help assess the strengths of national teams after the 2020 Olympics, and strengthen cooperation between the countries.

The frequency of the Games and the sports to be contested are to be discussed. Some non-Olympic sports that are traditional to the region may be included. A working group will determine these and other technical matters, before a final decision on the next edition of the Games is made at the next General Assembly of Central Asian NOCs.

Saeidi Keykavous, secretary general of the Iranian NOC, said: “This is my first time to come to Kazakhstan as Secretary General. As a result of our meeting I can say that we will prepare for the Games.

“I am confident that this is a great opportunity for all Central Asian countries. As you know, we used to be part of West Asia but we were asked to change zones and joined Central Asia. We would like to have good cooperation; we will compete in Central Asia at any time.”

Salamat Ergeshov, secretary general of the Kyrgyzstan NOC, said: “We believe that the Games should be revived. This is one of the main starting points. Our athletes all know each other. The fact that the Games will be held in 2021, right after the Olympic Games, is also the right decision. This is the start of preparation in a new Olympic cycle – we will first see everything at the regional level and start preparing the team for the next stage, the Asian Games in 2022.

“It is very important for us to hold the Central Asian Games. For example, not all countries have the opportunity to send teams to different countries in team sports. And, among the seven countries, there will be an opportunity to see each other’s level.”

The Central Asian Games took place every two years between 1995 and 2003. They began after the International Olympic Committee’s then-president Juan Antonio Samaranch in 1994 encouraged Uzbekistan’s then-president Islam Karimov to launch and host the event. Tashkent in Uzbekistan hosted the first and last editions.