8th Children of Asia International Sports Games Directorate; Office 17, 38 Kalandarishvili St., Yakutsk, Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russian Federation, 677008

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Children of Asia is about friendship and unity

Children of Asia is about friendship and unity

At the end of June, the 8th Children of Asia Games will start in Yakutsk. The first President of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Mikhail Nikolaev, was the driving force and the mind behind it. Mikhail Sivtsev, Director General of the 8th Children of Asia International Sports Games Directorate, told RIA Novosti in an interview during the SPIEF about the organization of the Games, the participants, as well as the significance of the event for young people and the region.

- Which countries and how many athletes do you expect to participate this year? What kinds of sports will be there?
- 45 member countries of the Olympic Council of Asia have the opportunity to participate in the Games. For various reasons, not all countries will take part in the competition, but 25 countries have already confirmed their participation. They will compete in 24 sports. In general, Asian countries actively participate in the Games. This time, after a short break, the Chinese national team will join us again. In total, we expect more than three thousand members of sports delegations, and these are very impressive figures. Of these three thousand, just over 1.3 thousand people are athletes from the Russian Federation regions. Since 1996, when the first games were held, more than 15 thousand young athletes from forty Asian countries have participated.

- Are there any new sports added this time that were not at the previous Games?
- Sport climbing was included in the demonstration program. For this purpose, a climbing wall was built inside the existing sports complex with the support of the Russian Olympians Foundation. Regarding sports not included in the Olympic program, there will be our traditional sports: Yakut national jumping and stick pulling (mas-wrestling), which is a fairly popular sport here. There will also be Asian martial arts, such as kurash and alysh. As for mind sports, besides chess, we will have competitions in Go.

- How were the qualifying tournaments? Was there a great competition?
- Each country has its own selection process. We know for sure that countries like Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan pay special attention to these Games. They form national teams from junior teams at the state level, selecting strong athletes for the Games. Among the federal districts, the Siberian Federal District and the Ural Federal District are quite serious about forming their teams. The Sakha Republic, as a host and organizer, has the right to field two teams at once. When the first president of the republic conceived the idea of this event, he wanted to see the level of sports training of Yakutia's youth in comparison with other countries. This idea is being implemented today. Members of the Russian national team who are natives of Yakutia must be included in our team. But in general, our two teams have quite a large number of athletes (about 400 people), whose level of training we will be able to assess.

- What do the children gain from participating in the Games? What prospects do they have?
- Among the 15,000 children who have participated in the Children of Asia Games since the foundation, there are quite a few champions of Asia. There are also Olympic champions. For example, the gymnastics champion Lilia Akhaimova. There are quite a few examples of continuing a sports career after the Games, and with significant results, too. Therefore, the leadership of the republic continues to pay special attention to this project, and the Ministry of Sport of Russia supports it. But it's not only about sports performance. The Children of Asia Games give young athletes the opportunity to compare themselves with their peers from other countries, which is rarely possible on any other platform. For instance, a young man or girl from the Siberian Federal District must undergo a very serious selection process at the national level to compete in an Asian championship. At last, the Games obviously help young people to shape the right attitude toward their health and bodies, and cultivate their love for sports.

- The Games were held in Yakutsk for the first time in 1996 and are now returning to this city again. How much does this affect the development of sports infrastructure and youth sports in the city and the republic in general?
- Historically, only a few new sports facilities were built in Yakutsk for the first Games in 1996. And for each of the following Games, the infrastructure was developed: modern sports facilities were built in compliance with international standards. This year, a new multifunctional gym was put into service in Yakutsk, and another training gym was built in the suburbs. Thus, the sports infrastructure continues to develop every year, thanks to the Children of Asia Games. But it is not only the sports infrastructure that is being developed. As part of the Games, new roads, interchanges, and routes are being prepared, repaired, and built. Construction of new houses is underway, as is resettlement from dilapidated housing. There are entire streets and even neighborhoods that appeared in Yakutsk specifically in preparation for the Children of Asia Games.

- It is known that the Government of the Sakha Republic pays special attention to the organization of the Games and especially to security issues. Tell us about these aspects.
- Work is under way on all fronts, not just security. A huge number of people, ordinary residents of Yakutia, are involved in the preparation for the 8th Children of Asia Games. Catering workers, drivers, and translators are being trained. But, indeed, such an event cannot be held without ensuring full security. Taking into account the tragic events in Moscow, the organizers reconsidered the anti-terrorism protection of facilities and fire safety measures. We took a completely new look at the issue of providing special technical safety equipment. Today, sports facilities are already equipped with updated fire alarm and video surveillance systems, and law enforcement agencies are strengthening them. And this is not only inside sports facilities, these are complex solutions. If we take a very distant perimeter, then there is an integrated accreditation system, verification, and study of personal data. Work is currently underway to limit certain types of business activities related to the sale of alcoholic beverages. Transport security is a different story. A whole range of measures concerns information security and protection against attacks on communications. In general, this is a multifaceted activity in all areas.

- The participation of volunteers in such events has already become commonplace: we see how effective it is for organizing events and how much it gives volunteers. Do you involve volunteer groups?
- We will have 1,900 volunteers working in 19 functional areas. Starting with the outer perimeter, where they work in the service of meetings and wires in airports, then - in transport, in accreditation centers, in accommodation centers, in accommodation facilities and catering facilities. They will also help the award service. And very worthy for the volunteer function - attaché accompanying the team. This year we saw a lot of competition among those wishing to become volunteers - more than 5,000 applications were submitted from all over Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and even from Oman. And this is despite the fact that the concept of the Games does not involve paying for their travel.
For a volunteer, as for an athlete, participation in the Games is a great responsibility. We see this as a huge potential and opportunity for the youth of our republic and other host cities, because young people are given the opportunity to communicate with peers from other places, acting as a host. This is real, without pathos, patriotism. They share responsibility with the organizers, and this is very clearly laid down in them. This is a key value for volunteers. Besides volunteers, thousands of children are involved in the cultural program. They come from different parts of the republic and represent various creative groups, but they participate in the theatrical performance (in particular, at the opening ceremony) as one team.

- Is there any entertainment program provided? If so, what kind and how will the participants’ leisure time be organized?
- For the opening ceremony, the Ministry of Culture of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) attracts our artists from various theaters and prepares performances related to the demonstration of our culture and traditions. By the way, practically all the ethnic groups in the Russian Federation - 120 nationalities and peoples - live in the territory of the republic. At the sites of the Athletes Village there will be entertainment programs, which will be conducted by local artists, including the theater team of the North-Eastern Federal University. Performances by creative groups are being prepared for city residents at various venues, and exhibitions are being prepared in museums. A separate cultural park is also being prepared, which will be open all days of the 8th Games, and there will be performances by artists for different generations every evening. So, for young people, we tried to invite a beloved artist: a bright star - a native of Yakutia, who today performs at the level of Russian pop. Local creative groups that are loved by, so to speak, “middle-aged youth” will perform. And in the morning on the territory of the park there will be entertainment programs for children. In parallel, on this site will be held outdoor sports competitions - basketball 3x3 and breakdancing. We tried to provide a varied cultural program for almost all segments of the population of the republic, athletes and guests. Also, young athletes and guests of the Games will enjoy sightseeing tours. In addition, traditionally in the summer we have the national holiday Ysyakh (Yakut New Year) associated with the solstice, which is included in the calendar program of the 8th Children of Asia Games. The holiday demonstrates our unity, gathering about 200 thousand people in one place.

- How do you see the further development of the Children of Asia Games, their significance in the modern world and for modern youth?
- I believe that the Children of Asia Games have great potential. Firstly, it is one of the few multi-sport projects for young people. Second, this project is still about friendship, about friendship of peoples, and not just about sports competition. So far it is held in Asia, but already there is interest from the countries and subjects of the Russian Federation, which are located in the European part. If this project is developed further, then we can get a larger platform of unity and friendship for the children of our country and Eurasia as a whole. The region, the country that is willing to host the Games, thereby makes a direct contribution to its youth. The participation of young people not only in competitions, but also in the organization of the Games (as volunteers, participants in the cultural program) forms their responsibility for the future of their region, their territory already at a young age, and they will bear this throughout their lives. Having already become experts, they will in any case strive to do something good for their country.

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