A creative, inspiring and breathtaking telling of Turkmenistan’s story has opened the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in the most fantastic way imaginable, with a show that will live long in the memory of all who witnessed it.
The cauldron – that sits atop the Ashgabat Olympic Stadium, carried by the revered symbol of Turkmenistan, the Akhal-teke horse – now burns brightly until the Games end, on September 27.
It was lit in the most dramatic way, when an Akhal Teke horse, trained specifically for this one purpose, climbed a tower at centre stage and its rider ignited a pyrotechnic sequence that reached the cauldron, causing the Ashgabat 2017 flame to leap high into the night sky above the Stadium.
After the tolling of a bell, Turkmenistan's Esteemed President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov gave his blessing to the Games and Ashgabat 2017 was officially opened.
The grand spectacle, which included 75,000 costume pieces, revolved around a huge cylinder – the biggest ever built for an Opening Ceremony – suspended 30m above the field of play. It projected 25m high images and hid entire scene changes, sets and hundreds of cast members.
There were stunning segments designed around the famous Turkmen Akhal Teke horses and the nation’s beautiful carpets.
The audience in the stadium played an active part in the show, with LED devices that were programmed to emit light at precise moments during the show, such as during the Athletes Parade.
The Parade had a fresh and creative element, with the procedure featuring flag projections onto the central cylinder.
The Ceremony, developed by industry-leading Balich Worldwide Shows and directed by Francisco Negrin, represented Turkmenistan’s enormous cultural richness and depth, and set the tone for what is to be the biggest sporting event ever held in Central Asia.
This was the moment the entire nation of Turkmenistan had looked forward to since being awarded the Games, in December 2010.
The Chairman of the 5th AIMAG Executive Committee, Mr Dayanch Gulgeldiyev, called the Opening Ceremony an important event in country's history.
“As well as bring the Opening Ceremony for the biggest edition of the Games to date, it is a proud moment for all of us that have been involved in working towards this day over the past seven years,” he said.
The Chairman of Balich Worldwide Shows, Marco Balich, said, “This is a very important moment for the Turkmen nation, showing the country in a grand way for the first time.
“We had the responsibility for depicting what is going to be the perception of Turkmenistan for decades to come.”
Over the 12-days of competition at Ashgabat 2017, 4500 athletes from 65 delegations will compete in 347 medal events across 21 sports.