Sport and international sport cooperation of Turkmenistan

With the attainment of independence, new approaches to the organization of the sports and physical movement began to be formed in Turkmenistan and the foundations for international cooperation in the field of sports began to form. The starting point for its active phase began from 2007, when Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was elected to the post of the President of Turkmenistan to reform all spheres of state structure and society, including sports. Since that time the development of physical culture and sports in the country, the achievement of a healthy lifestyle due to a harmonious combination of the spiritual and physical potential of a man, and the expansion of international sports cooperation have become one of the priorities of state policy.

In the course of implementing this policy, multifunctional stadiums, sports and recreation complexes, race courses, sports schools and other sports facilities have been built in all velayats (regions) of the country. For example, if in 2008 the first sports school was opened, then eight years later, its number reached 115. The method of training sportsmen and specialists, the practice of holding sports competitions began to improve in the country; Turkmen sportsmen began to actively participate in foreign competitions. To highlight the achievements in the field of physical culture and sports, promote healthy lifestyles, which is conducted under the slogan "Turkmenistan is a country of spirituality and health," since January 1, 2012 the "Turkmenistan-Sport" TV channel began broadcasting.

In special climatic conditions of Turkmenistan, opportunities for winter sports have been created. A sports complex for winter sports has been built in Ashgabat, as well as a multifunctional sports complex with an ice arena of professional dimensions was built in the Avaza National Tourist Zone. It's not the first year that the national hockey championship has been held in the country, such sports as figure skating and short track have been developed.

Over the years of the reforms, the quality of sportsmanship has significantly increased. If in 2007 Turkmen athletes won only ten medals in international tournaments, then in 2016 there are 643. In 2017, the number of won medals exceeded 750.

All this became possible thanks to the implementation of such plans as the "National Program for the Socio-Economic Development of Turkmenistan for 2011-2030", "The National Program for the Transformation of the Social Conditions of the Population of Villages, Settlements, Cities for the Period to 2020", "National Program on support and development of physical culture and sports in Turkmenistan for 2011-2020","National program for the development of sports and training masters of sports in 2012-2016”.

The development of physical culture and sports is supported by the laws "On Physical Culture and Sport", "On Professional Sports", "On Horse Breeding and Equestrian Sports", "On State Youth Policy”, “On Volunteering", "On Combating Doping in Sport".

To strengthen international relations in the field of sports, as well as full integration into the system of the world Olympic movement, Turkmenistan ratified the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport, joined the Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol, the country established the National Anti-Doping Agency.

In order to promote the initiatives and policies of the President of Turkmenistan in the field of sports at the international level, as well as coordinate the activities of relevant departments and diplomatic missions of the country in this direction, the Department of International Sports Cooperation was established in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan in 2012 by the Resolution of the President of Turkmenistan. It enabled to broaden the interaction on the issues of the development of sport with the UN, UNESCO, the World Health Organization, the International Olympic Committee, and the Olympic Council of Asia, as well as other international and regional sports organizations through the mechanism of sports diplomacy.

Cooperation in the field of sports is regulated on a bilateral legal basis with more than 60 states. Only in 2017 documents on sports cooperation were signed with the Republics of Uzbekistan, Belarus, Armenia, as well as with Japan. In addition, the issues of cooperation in the field of sports find a worthy place in the declarations and communiqués of the heads of states adopted at the high level visits, as well as in the documents of the intergovernmental commissions on the development of bilateral cooperation with foreign countries.

One of the most important directions in the field of international sports cooperation, including in the field of sports diplomacy, has been the consistent work to spread the Turkmen national wrestling "Goresh" in the world. Since 2015, the World Goresh Wrestling Federation has been operating with headquarters in Ashgabat, and federations for this sport have been established in more than twenty countries. In 2017, the European, African and South American continental federations of the Turkmen national wrestling "Goresh" were created, as well as European and African championships in this sport were held. The work to further advance the Turkmen wrestling in the world continues.

In the concept of international sports cooperation, Turkmenistan imposes a high humanistic meaning and directly relates it to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 (SDGs). On April 7-8, 2017, within the framework of World Health Day in the Avaza National Tourist Zone, a representative International Sports Congress "Asian Games 2017: International Sport Cooperation for Peace and Progress" had been held, the Final Declaration of which was circulated as an official document of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly. On September 15, 2017 on the initiative of Turkmenistan at the 36th session of the UN Council on Human Rights the Declaration "On Encouraging the Valuable Contribution of the Olympic Teams of Refugees to the Strengthening of Peace and Human Rights" was adopted.

The culmination of the decade-long development of the sports movement and the formation of Turkmenistan's full-fledged international sports cooperation was the most ambitious and representative in its series V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games which took place on September 17-27, 2017 in Ashgabat under the motto: "Health. Inspiration. Friendship". They were attended by about 6 thousand athletes who competed in 21 sports, the course of which was covered by more than 550 journalists from 82 countries. Approximately 35,000 foreign guests arrived in the capital, including heads of states, governments and parliaments, heads of the ministries and departments of dozens of countries, as well as prominent international public and political figures. A distinctive feature of the Games "Ashgabat 2017" was the fact that along with 45 Asian countries in the competition for the first time took part athletes from 19 countries of Oceania (almost a third of the world), as well as a sports team of refugees.

The national team of Turkmenistan participated in the Games triumphantly. From the first day, taking the lead and holding it to the end, Turkmen athletes in total won 245 medals, including 89 gold, 70 silver medals and 86 bronze medals. The second place was taken by the team of the People’s Republic of China, in the asset of which 97 medals, 42 of them gold, 32 silver and 23 bronze. The top three winners included athletes from Iran who won 118 awards, including 36 gold, 23 silver and 59 bronze medals.

Competitions were held in a specially built for the Games in Ashgabat Olympic town worth 5 billion US dollars, which has no analogues in the Central Asian region. In the town there are about 40 different objects, two of which were included in the Guinness Book of Records - this is the world's largest artistic monumental image of the horse, towering above the Olympic Stadium and the Water Sports Center with the world's largest indoor swimming pool. The whole sports complex, as well as its separate facilities meet modern international standards and requirements and can be used for the successful conduct of international competitions of any level.

The Concept of the foreign policy course of Turkmenistan for the period 2017-2023 set the task of full-fledged, effective integration of the country into the system of the world Olympic movement. With the holding of Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan has entered a number of states that are capable of hosting major sports events of international scale and has become even more attractive for the international sports community.