The Second World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan: impressive events, huge costs

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BISHKEK (TCA) — The Second World Nomad Games (WNG) are over, and it is time to sum up all the pluses and minuses and draw some conclusions. Delegations from 62 countries took part in the Games, which took place from September 3 to 8 at Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan. More than 500 journalists from foreign and domestic media covered the event.

The competitions were held at a hippodrome and fitness center in Cholpon-Ata city, in the Kyrchyn Gorge, and Aurora resort.

Of 387 medals, the Kyrgyz team won the most (25 gold, 25 silver and 29 bronze, total 79 medals), followed by Turkmenistan (24 medals), and Kazakhstan (38 medals).

The Games will be held every two years in Kyrgyzstan.

The Games got a good feedback. The Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic congratulated the country on “successful staging of the second World Nomad Games, which gathered hundreds of athletes and thousands of viewers from worldwide.” Among the participants were 58 athletes from 11 Member States of the European Union. The European athletes managed to win 17 different medals, including two gold, three silver, and twelve bronze medals.

“The games will be remembered for athletic achievements and also for the warm reception and hospitality of the Kyrgyz people,” the EU Delegation’s statement said.

Exorbitant and unreasonable costs

To conduct the Games, Kyrgyz authorities carried out tenders for various kinds of services worth millions of soms.

For example, nearly 1.3 million soms were spent for transport services. The Akun boarding house was paid 1.44 million soms for accommodation and meals of the WNG guests, the Kazakhstan sanatorium – 720 thousand soms, and about one million soms were paid to private entrepreneurs.

The Finance Ministry allocated 16.7 million soms for the festive concerts and events in the Kyrchyn valley.

Sponsor allocated about $3 million for the WNG, Deputy Head of the President’s Office Sapar Isakov said.

Racetrack

The Government commissioned the construction of the racetrack in Cholpon-Ata to the State Agency for Architecture and Construction and allowed it entering into direct contracts with companies without tenders.

According to the Agency, nearly 1.6 billion soms have been allocated to general contractors for the racetrack construction but the exact amount will be announced later.

Skeptics believe it was too a luxurious event for a small country with a six million population and the state debt of more than $4 billion (which is more than 60% of GDP). The poor state budget is mainly supported by the Kumtor gold mine and remittances from migrant workers.

Unfeasible suggestions

The investments in the reconstruction of the racetrack could be repaid in 10 or 15 years, the National Institute for Strategic Studies (NISS) said. Horse race betting is a promising project, they believe, with online betting system capable of attracting players from around the world.

Horseback riding, Open Air music festival and concerts could also become profitable activities. The NISS also suggested holding sporting events, conferences and team building events, university and street sports competitions at the racetrack in summer.

To attract tourists, it is necessary to build a hotel. The NISS also advised to build a soccer field, running track and swimming pool, and to improve infrastructure for a variety of open water activities.

Undoubtedly, these are good ideas, but they are costly and hardly feasible in the current economic conditions of the country.

Road to Issyk-Kul

The Government planned to complete the reconstruction of the Balykchy – Cholpon-Ata – Korumdu road, running along the northern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul, by the beginning of the Games. However, the road has not been completed so far.

After the scandal over the road construction and the subsequent change of the prime minister and Government in April, rehabilitation works were suspended due to non-financing. It turned out that the previous Government started the reconstruction but not provided the necessary funds.

Later, the road construction was resumed but it was not completed by September. The contractor company had finished the road to Cholpon-Ata, where the event took place, and the rest of the road to Korumdu will be finished before the end of the year.

Also, an additional 1 billion soms are needed for the reconstruction of the road. The cost has grown due to compliance with international quality standards, officials said.