The Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan held its biennial (every-other year) Nomad Games last week. The festivities promote and celebrate the traditional sports of nomadic peoples.
The first Nomad Games were held in this former Soviet republic in 2014. Since that time, the games have won support from UNESCO. That’s a committee of the United Nations that sponsors and preserves human activity of educational, scientific, or cultural impact. The Kyrgyzstan games now attract competitors from more than 80 countries.
The week-long competition is held in a gorge near the picturesque Lake Issyk-Kul. It features traditional sports of nomadic peoples such as horseback wrestling, archery, falconry, and goat polo (played with a dead goat).
Authorities in Kyrgyzstan hope that the Nomad Games will help spur new interest in the ancient traditions of its people. Those traditions have been fading over the past century.
Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov said at the Games’ opening that the competition is a chance to revive the practice of “people's diplomacy.” He credits that common interaction of nations’ citizens with helping to preserve peace and understanding in the past.
(AP Photo: A woman on horseback releases an arrow during an archery competition at the Third World Nomad Games in Cholpon-Ata, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.)