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Kyrgyzstan NOC is first delegation at team welcome ceremony


17 Feb 2017
Sapporo, Japan, February 16, 2017: Kyrgyzstan NOC had the honour of being the first delegation to be welcomed to the Sapporo Asian Winter Games at the Team Welcome Ceremony on Thursday. The ceremony was held indoors at Minami Ward Gymnasium, next to the official Athletes’ Hotel, the Sapporo APA Hotel and Resort.

After an inspiring welcome speech by the Village Mayor, Emi Watanabe, the former figure skater, the national anthem of the Kyrgyz Republic was played as their flag was raised, marking their official arrival.

Sapporo 2017 Director General Hiroshi Abe took part in the ritual exchange of gifts with the Kyrgyzstan delegation, the visitors receiving 1,000 paper cranes made one by one by local schoolchildren – a tradition to wish the athletes a safe and successful visit to Sapporo.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ceremony, Adilet Baiaman, a member of the Kyrgyzstan HQ staff, said the delegation numbered 56, including 44 athletes. “I think our hockey team can do well because half of them play with professional clubs, including in Kazakhstan and Russia,” he said.

“We have been preparing for this event for one year because it is the Asian Winter Games and it’s very serious. We are a young federation, formed about eight years ago, but we have had some good results. This is a big start for our team. “The Ministry of Sport provides very strong support for winter sports, including hockey,” he added.

In the men’s ice hockey, Kyrgyzstan will play in the third tier competition - Division II Group A against Qatar, Independent Olympic Athletes (representing the suspended Kuwait Olympic Committee) and the Philippines. The games will be held at Hoshioki Ice Skating Rink. Kyrgyzstan will also compete in biathlon and figure skating at Sapporo 2017, according to Adilet.
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