The 100-Day Countdown for the Ashgabat 2017 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games was celebrated in grand style at the multi-functional stadium in the Turkmen city of Mary.

Over 100 media personnel, from all across the globe, attended the colourful ceremony that featured thousands of dancers and carefully choreographed cultural programmes, all organised in conjunction with a multi-day International Media Forum held in Ashgabat and Mary.

It was organised to welcome media to Turkmenistan, inform them about the Games, and show them first-hand that Ashgabat’s world class facilities and state-of-the-art venues are ready to go.

While numerous excited, flag-waving fans took up their seats in the stadium well in advance, around 1,000 children dressed in bright-coloured clothing transformed the football field into a virtual garden.

The 100-Day countdown ceremony began with the release of thousands of coloured balloons into the air. Soon, 17 riders, astride Turkmenistan’s national pride — the royal Akhal-Teke horses — passed through the stadium.

The group of horsemen, who had ridden across four of the five provinces in Turkmenistan before beginning the last leg of their journey to Ashgabat, received thunderous applause. Their journey is part of a grand tour of Turkmenistan, which will culminate in Ashgabat to kick-off the Games in September.

Several hundred Turkmen men and women, dressed in traditional as well as sports tracksuits, followed the horsemen in a celebratory march past. The stadium reverberated with the sounds of loud music and cheers as people celebrated the momentous occasion. They were treated to great dance performances and programmes that highlighted Turkmenistan’s deep roots to history.

Earlier in the day, the visiting media delegation watched with great interest as several hundred children and young people engaged in demonstration events in different disciplines — chess, gymnastics, ju-jitsu, wrestling and traditional Turkmen sport of tug of war.

The journalists then attended the International Media Forum, held under the theme “5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games 100 Days to Go” jointly organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan and the State Committee of Turkmenistan for Television, Radio Broadcasting and Cinematography.

Annageldy Garajayev, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan, conveyed a congratulatory message from Turkmenistan’s Esteemed President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, which officially began the Forum, marking it as an important event in the build-up to the Games.

Dayanch Gulgeldiyev, Chairman of the 5th AIMAG Executive Committee, said they were determined to deliver a memorable competition.

“100 days to go is the most important milestone for the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to date. I’m really pleased to be able to share this day and the celebrations with the international media visiting Turkmenistan.”

“I would like to congratulate and thank the Esteemed President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov for his leadership and guidance in the preparations and delivery of what will be a significant event for our country and the people of Turkmenistan.

“Our team at the Executive Committee will now focus on Games-time readiness and the last preparations to ensure we’re delivering the best experience for the thousands of athletes, officials and spectators attending Ashgabat 2017 in September,”.

National Olympic Committee of Turkmenistan Secretary General

Azat Myradov, State Sports Committee of Turkmenistan Chairman Toyly Komekov and International Sports Press Association Vice-President Esat Rahmi Yilmar delivered their addresses, all of them remarking on the work completed so far, and the growing anticipation for the Games.

Participants of the International Media Forum also visited the Ashgabat Olympic Complex, Turkmen National Carpet Museum, the ancient city of Merv and International Akhal-Teke Equestrian Sports Complex.