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Council News

Grand opening ceremony for 1st Children of Asia Winter Games

Date : 09 Feb 2019

Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russian Federation, February 9, 2019: Dancers and drummers, horses and a troupe of "wolves", figure skaters and Cossacks all came together in a colourful opening ceremony for the 1st Children of Asia Winter Games on Saturday.

Heralded as the largest cultural and entertainment event in the history of Sakhalin, more than 1,000 artists, some of them from as far away as Moscow, turned up on a chilly evening at Spartak Stadium to usher in the inaugural edition of these Youth Games for children under the age of 17 in Asia.

Also coming from Moscow was a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin which was read out by Olga Golodets, Deputy Chairman of the Government of Russia. Putin said: “These Games carry out an important mission of not only developing youth winter sports but also strengthening the friendship and mutual understanding between the children of Russia and Asia.

“I am sure the Children of Asia Winter Games will become a real holiday. It will allow you to demonstrate your abilities, strong-willed character and winning attitude and will provide everyone with unforgettable memories,” Putin added.

Samira Asghari, a former Afghanistan women’s national basketball player, who was elected as a member of the IOC last October, read out a message from IOC President Thomas Bach.

“I wish all the athletes a fantastic time at the Children of Asia Winter Games. Some of you may go on to represent your country at the Youth Olympics and indeed the Olympics. I wish you all the best,” said Samira, conveying the greetings of President Bach on an evening when the temperature dipped to minus 18 degrees Celsius.

It hardly made an effect on the large crowds which turned up to watch a show which dwelled on the heritage of Sakhalin, traditions and customs of Russia and the development of the region.

Athletes from the 20 countries participating took part in the parade. They were from Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Nepal, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Jordan, Tajikistan, Philippines, Japan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, the United Arab Emirates, India, Kuwait, Syria and Armenia, plus Russia represented by teams from Moscow, the Republics of Tatarsan, Bashkortostan, Sakha, and the regions of Sakhalin, Siberia, and Ural Far Eastern federal district.

The Games flame lit up a replica of Sakhalin’s famous landmark, the Sakhalin lighthouse, as Russian pop stars from Moscow and St. Petersburg, including popular boyband MBAND, kept the audience swaying in the icy stands.

The ceremony ended with a grand firework display with the Olympic rings – the Games are being held under the auspices of the IOC as well as the Olympic Council of Asia - being highlighted on the mountainside fronting the alpine skiing centre at Gorniy Vozdukh Sports and Tourist Centre.

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