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When selecting AIMAG-2017 host, Ashkhabad did Turkey’s bidding

Picture: ashgabat2017.gov.tm

The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG-2017) will be held in Ashkhabad under the aegis of the Olympic Council of Asia on September 15-24, 2017. Athletes from 62 countries are expected to participate in the event, while the way how it is being organized has already come across some political collisions.

In November 2015, Turkmenistan’s Executive Committee for preparation of AIMAG-2017 announced a tender to select the organizer-company. Many organizations, including some from Russia, took an interest in the tender (Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, has gained a reputation of an exemplary organizer of 2013 Universiade and 2015 World Aquatics Championships). However, in April, News-Asia (Kyrgyzstan) reported that an influential Turkish company Polimeks is lobbying for an American company as general sponsor of the games.

News-Asia recalled that the operator of The First European Games in Baku in 2015 was an American company too. It was then that three Austrian athletes were mown down by a bus that was used during the games, the source reported adding that the athletes received injuries, which cast a gloom over the event.

It is obvious, says News-Asia, that nowadays organizing such big sports events is a very difficult procedure covering all the aspects of the event: catering, transport, security etc. It turns out that host countries in our region have no sufficient technologies and experience in the field and have no specialized companies or organizations similar to the ones in Europe and U.S. Consequently, they have to hire “foreign” specialists.

The details of the collisions involving international actors and billions of expenses made EADaily request information from its sources in Ashkhabad about that silent scandal. 

“The Executive Committee of the Games is to select the operator, but informally, the political leadership of Turkmenistan does it,” the source explained. Besides, the leadership of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) led by Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, as well as by OCA Director General - Technical Director Husain Al-Musallam (Ahmad’s authorized person, both are the citizens of Kuwait) has a great influence upon decisions of the Executive Committee.

 In this light, Turkey started talks behind-the-scenes with the political quarters in Turkmenistan. Polimeks representatives held a series of meetings with the country’s leadership. Consequently, a decision was made to cancel the previous tender and announce a new one to involve more participants representing world-known companies in the field as opposed to Russia. Polimeks is implementing a significant number of construction projects in the country. It is a contractor of such construction projects as the new airport in Ashkhabad, Olympic village, as well as the organizer of the opening/closing ceremonies of the пames. Probably, Polimeks has been provided with big funds to invite more subcontractors at its own discretion. Besides, it is not ruled out that Polimeks is lobbying Broadstone Group (U.S.) in the tender. The latter was the general operator of the European Games 2015 in Baku.

It is noteworthy that googling “Polimeks” one will get at once several links of various scandals. In particular, in 2013, the Turkish authorities detained a plane with 1 tons of gold on the board. The gold belonged to the company and was to be delivered to Turkmenistan.

Besides, it is clear that Polimeks is deeply integrated into the business environment of Turkmenistan. It is a big foreign developer and contractor, having a lobby in the leadership of Turkmenistan - this traditionally arouses corruption suspicions. During the European Games in Baku (under management of Broadstone Group), serious incidents were registered. Besides the incident with the bus that hit three Austrian athletes, there was a quarrel between two teams and many other incidents. Doug Arnot, Managing Director at Broadstone Group, was involved in a scandal during the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City over his aggressive behavior (he beat up a passer-by). He faced charges and was not dismissed from the Olympic Committee just because Republican Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, candidate for president in 2012, personally interfered with the incident. 

Actually, it is clear that at least two sides have their own interests in the organization of AIMAG-2017 and their interests bear no relation to the ones of Turkmenistan and sports, generally. The probable choice of the Games Executive Committee will prove this.

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