The 4th World Nomad Games will begin on Thursday at Iznik in western Turkiye after a two-year COVID-19 hiatus.
More than 3,000 traditional athletes from over 102 countries will take part in the event, which will be opened by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The World Ethnosport Confederation, which works to raise awareness, revitalize and popularize traditional sports around the world, organizes the four-day competition on a 700,000 square kilometer area on the picturesque shore of Lake Iznik.
The very first World Nomad Games were held in Kyrgyzstan in 2014 with the aim of preserving the nomads’ cultural lifestyle and ancestral sport for posterity. Since then it has earned a reputation for being the first and only event in the world celebrating traditional sports.
The 4th World Nomad Games themed “We are One: From Tradition to Future!” will host over 40 competitions in three different categories – Horse Riding, Wrestling and Archery. Each category will include several competitions unique in Turkey’s geography are.
For example, in horseback riding, there are two competitions, Kökbörü and Kökpar. In Kökbörü, mounted players attempt to place a goat or calf carcass in a gate.
The wrestling events on the other hand include traditional Turkish oil wrestling, Kazakh wrestling, Pehlivan wrestling and some others.
In addition to sports, the World Nomad Games celebrates traditional lifestyles, arts and gastronomy.
It will also host various activities related to traditional and performing arts, while hosting children’s events, playgrounds and even an ethno market.
The games aim to preserve the cultural and historical heritage of different peoples from all over the world and to strengthen intercultural communication, friendship and harmony.
The event will also contribute to strengthening Turkish cultural diplomacy as well as better recognition of Iznik around the world.
Iznik, a city with a long historical and cultural heritage, is well prepared to host the world’s largest traditional games event.
It will welcome everyone from the head of state to the average citizen to the four-day event, which will also be televised by millions of people from around the world.
For visitors who want to enjoy the games up close, there will be a trailer park and camping sites for tents, giving people a taste of nomadic life.
The main venue will feature a 5,000-seat arena, while there will also be separate grandstands for wrestling and archery competitions.
In addition to the sports arena, there will also be experience zones with traditional food and drinks. It will also house an ethnic market or shopping area with traditional handicrafts, places of worship, campfire chats, archery training and equestrian areas, as well as fully equipped stables for hundreds of horses used in equestrian sports.
Speaking about the 4th World Nomad Games, Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu said in a statement that this year’s competition will be a milestone.
“We will organize the largest traditional sports organization in the world. We see this meeting as a spirit of solidarity and a bridge that unites communities and nations that have a very strong interest in history, culture and values. We see this strengthening of solidarity as a milestone,” he said.