AKIPRESS.COM - Turkmenistan began on Thursday a long countdown to the fifth Asian Indoor Games to be hosted in its capital Ashgabat next year by launching a 500-day nationwide horse race.
President Gurbanguly Berdymuhamedov oversaw 17 horses manned by professional jockeys set off on one of five consecutive 100-day races taking place in each of the authoritarian country's five regions.
"The proper preparations and hosting of the Asian games will contribute to the strengthening of Turkmenistan's standing in the world," said Berdymuhamedov, speaking at the starting ceremony at the historical site of Nisa just outside Ashgabat.
The race that began at 1700 Thursday local time will conclude in time for the opening ceremony for the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games on September 17, according to the state news agency of Turkmenistana.
A total of 45 National Olympic Councils from Asia and 17 from Oceania will participate in the games, according to the Olympic Council of Asia.