Reports from various media suggest that the president of Turkmenistan is planning a mass bicycle race on Sept. 1 that will be required
participation for all.
In the last race promoted by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov about 2 weeks ago, he is shown to be the winner of the race, his arms up in the air.
An opposition news site Chrono have reported that in preparation for the large-scale cycling event on Sept 1, “bicycles are piling up in all utility rooms in the ministries and agencies located in the capital,” and “they are stored even under the stairs.”
Though some agencies have allocated funds to purchase bicycles from their own budgets, “in the majority of cases organizations bought a batch of two-wheel vehicles and then deducted the amount from their staff’s salaries. “Forced bicycle racers” were also urged to buy sportswear, reported the site.
But they add, “preparations for the bicycle race were limited to the purchase of sports equipments and sportswear, and training sessions for would-be athletes have not been arranged.”
In the last race, the state-controlled Altyn Asyr channel showed President Berdimuhamedov holding an arm aloft as he crossed the finish line clear of the next rider during a race near the capital Ashgabat. “Apparently, the “esteemed president” has ordered officials to provide regular mass races on Sunday,” reported the British Broadcasting Corporation. Writes the BBC,
“It’s just the latest report to present the authoritarian leader as fit and active, after he was shown jetskiing, fishing and riding a scooter on holiday. It’s not the president’s first sporting success, either. In May, state-run media provided prominent coverage of him winning the equivalent of £7m in cash prize during a horse race – despite suggestions the “master jockey” had fallen off. In July last year, he was broadcast singing and playing guitar.”