Some of the world’s best weightlifters arrived in the Caspian region, where the 2018 World Weightlifting Championships are currently being held for the third time in the region’s history.
On Thursday, Turkmenistan’s capital city of Ashgabat welcomed nearly 700 athletes from more than 80 countries, including Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Russia. This year’s championships are taking place at the Martial Arts Arena, which was built for the fifth Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games – the biggest multi-sport event uniting Asian countries.
The 23rd edition of the World Weightlifting Championships is the second major sporting event held by Turkmenistan in the last two months. Earlier, the country hosted a racecar competition called Amul-Khazar. The government of Turkmenistan hopes that hosting such events will enhance the country’s reputation on the world stage.
“Today, the World Weightlifting Championships demonstrate to the world the capability of our independent and permanently neutral country of organizing large-scale sporting events,” President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said on November 1 in his opening remarks, according to the World Weightlifting Championships official website.
The event was supposed to be held in Lima, Peru, but after the city failed to complete the construction of its sporting complex, Ashgabat was chosen. But having Ashgabat the venue was more than just a second choice.
The executive board of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), which is the organizer of the event, cited the unprecedented success of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games that took place in Turkmenistan last year, when mentioning why Ashgabat was chosen.
“Recognizing the request of Ashgabat to make post Games use of the legacy left by the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, which was an enormously successful event, the original host of the 2018 World Championships renounced the organization enabling the Executive Board to reallocate it to Turkmenistan,” reads the press statement issued by the federation.
The 2018 World Weightlifting Championships wrap up on Saturday, November 10.
Last year 6,000 athletes from 62 countries, including a refugee team from Africa, were in Ashgabat for the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. Turkmenistan’s government invested $5 billion for the development of a sports complex, while some put the figure at $15 billion.