The II World Nomad Games: The other ‘Olympics’!

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

We have had the Summer Olympics in Rio and these are now being followed by the Paralympics in Rio.

But, some other, less well-known, ‘Olympics’, have also been taking place from 3 – 8 September in Cholpon-Ata in Kyrgyzstan: the II World Nomad Games.

Forty countries, mainly from the region, but also including a large contingent from the US, involving a total of 2,000 athletes and 1,700 volunteers, have been competing in twenty-three kinds of ‘ethnosport’ as practised in Central Asia under the slogan: ‘United in Force! United in Spirit!’ The I Nomad Games were also held in the same place, Cholpon-Ata in Kyrgyzstan, in 2014.

These Games have been described as a crazier and cooler version of the Olympics, involving various forms of men’s and women’s wrestling, including ‘belt’ wrestling; women shooting bows upside down with their feet; horseback archery; equestrian javelin; flaming riders on horseback; dog racing using breeds of greyhounds; eagle hunting; and also the most popular sport of all at the Games, which is a cross between polo and basketball and  known as ‘Kok- Boru’ and also ‘Buzkash’, in which instead of a ball, the players on horseback fight over a decapitated goat carcass! For those who are interested, you can watch clips of this sport on ‘’.

In fact, the host nation’s team beat the national team of Kazakhstan in the final of this popular event at the Games!

For more information about these colourful ethnic and cultural Games of Central Asia, log onto the official website of the II World Nomad Games at

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw is an International Sports Lawyer and may be contacted by e-mail at ‘’