Imagine if the Olympic Games were held in Genghis Khan’s day – with fields full of galloping archers, competitive birds of prey, horse races and wrestling, and of course, horsemen clashing over a goat carcass. Now add selfie sticks and shuttle buses – and you’ve got what the World Nomad Games were like.
The second convening of the World Nomad Games – a home-brewed mix of athletic prowess and national pageantry – concluded in Kyrgyzstan on September 8. Staged around the country’s main resort area – Lake Issyk Kul – the five-day event was designed to celebrate nomadic ways of life, and featured over 1,200 athletes and hundreds of actors in costume. As such, the games were part athletic extravaganza, part tourism spectacle.
Organizers are hoping the games catch on, and can gain more legitimacy as an international sporting event. The first nomad games, held in Kyrgyzstan in 2014, were seen by many as a gimmick, in part because they suffered from poor organization.
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Vladic Ravich is a freelance photojournalist.