Kyrgyzstan: Lavish Nomad Games Promo Puts Sport Lovers in the Mood
The organizers of the second edition of the World Nomad Games, to be held in Kyrgyzstan in September, have released a handsomely promotional video that is likely to whet the appetite of lovers of traditional sports.
The promo makes ample use of Kyrgyzstan’s remarkable natural beauty and draws on some familiar motifs, from the horseback archer to lashings of kumys.
This is Culture Ministry’s second attempt at a promotional campaign. A video released in May came under sustained criticism after internet sleuths discovered some footage had been filched from other filmmakers. This time around, the producers have outdone themselves and created a brief video that could just as well serve as an advertisement for Kyrgyzstan’s tourist board.
The World Nomad Games run from September 3 through to September 8 and will be held on the Issyk-Kul Lake resort town of Cholpon-Ata. The competition includes 23 types of sports and a variety of other cultural events intended to celebrate the heritage of nomadic culture. Organizers say competitors from more than 40 countries will participate.
The inaugural edition of the games, also held at Cholpon-Ata, took place in 2014 and drew contestants from 19 countries, including all the ex-Soviet Central Asian nations, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Turkey, Russia and some other less likely suspects like Brazil, Sweden and South Korea. (Some sources put the number of participating countries quite a bit lower, but who’s counting?)
This event is hailed by its supporters as a way of generating tourist revenue and remembering the legacy of vanishing nomadic customs, but there are critics. The 2014 edition cost the Kyrgyz government around 102 million som, around $1.9 million at the rate of the time and no trifling amount for an economically troubled country.
An editorial by Ivan Marchenko after the previous edition questioned whether perhaps it would have been better address systemic problems affecting the tourist industry before trying to lure in foreign visitors.
“Just suppose the games do indeed draw the attention of foreigners to Kyrgyzstan. And what is to be done about the problem of instability in the country? What to do to improve the quality of service at resorts on Issyk-Kul, which are often unwarrantedly expensive? Is it possible to ensure the health and comfortable movement of foreigners in Kyrgyzstan? For a start, it would be as well to ensure safety on the road, so that guests (and not just them) don’t get into road accidents,” Marchenko harrumphed.
Such party-pooping is to be expected, and perhaps even welcomed to some extent, but the priority should now be on making nomadic games a success that will put Kyrgyzstan on the map for sports lovers looking for a healthy alternative to over-commercialized football and drugs-infested athletics.