AKIPRESS.COM - The 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) opened in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on Sunday.
The ceremony was attended by a number of heads of state and government, including the presidents of Afghanistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Some 5,500 athletes from 62 countries will be contesting in 21 disciplines -- including tennis, ju-jitsu, cycling track, weightlifting, and taekwondo -- to September 27, making it Asia's second-largest sporting event, according to organizers.
The Turkmen government has spent billions of dollars preparing for the games -- the most prominent international event ever held in independent Turkmenistan -- including some $2.5 billion on a mammoth new airport built in the shape of a falcon in flight, according to RFE/RL.
It also built an Olympic Complex located on 150 hectares on the outskirts of the capital and numerous state-of-the-art sporting facilities -- including the Olympic Stadium capable of holding 45,000 fans, a 6,000-seat indoor cycling track, a water-sports complex, an indoor tennis court -- complete with a circular 5-kilometer monorail system to carry athletes, officials, and fans around the complex.