Tajik Opposition Party Vows to Reward Olympic Medallists

On May 21, Muhiddin Kabiri, the leader of the opposition Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) announced that his party will reward Tajik athletes who bring home medals from the forthcoming Summer Olympic Games in London. Each medalist will receive a one-bedroom apartment in the country’s capital Dushanbe. Such an apartment can cost anything between US$ 30,000 and US$ 80,000. According to Kabiri, the move aims to support the country’s athletes who manage to achieve results at high-performance international competitions despite limited financial assistance from the government. “Our main goal in offering to reward Olympic success is to support the nation’s sportsmen and to call on other individuals, political parties, and organizations to follow suit,” he said. “Tajik athletes should receive all the support they need because they represent our country and build its image. I will be happy if this also helps to strengthen our party’s image.”

IRPT’s decision to reward potential Olympic medalists has obvious political objectives. In Tajikistan, sports remain severely underfunded and even the top performing athletes often struggle to make ends meet. Therefore, by offering incentives to the Olympians, Central Asia’s only Islamic party aims to demonstrate its willingness to do tangible things for the country. Kabiri appears certain to become IRPT’s candidate for the presidential elections next year. Earning additional public support will help him in challenging the incumbent president, Emomali Rahmon, who will seek reelection for another seven-year term in 2013.

The authorities have also promised handsome cash rewards for Olympic medals. In January, President Rahmon announced that the government will pay the country’s Olympians 300,000 somoni (US$ 63,000) for gold; 250,000 somoni (US$ 52,500) for silver, and 200,000 somoni (US$ 42,000) for bronze medals. The mayor of Dushanbe has also offered one-bedroom apartments for each gold medal; 45,000 somoni (US$ 9,400) for silver, and 35,000 somoni (US$ 7,300) for Olympic bronze. In addition, Tajikistan’s largest private bank, Oriyonbonk, which is owned by a relative of Rahmon’s, has promised that each Tajik medalist in London will receive a luxury car.

However, the athletes that will represent Tajikistan in the forthcoming Olympics may have legitimate doubts about whether the government will keep its promises. Following the 2008 Games in Beijing, where the country won its first two Olympic medals since independence, Tajikistan’s authorities were criticized for not rewarding their medalists adequately and for leaving them with no financial support afterwards.

Rasoul Boqiev, who won a bronze medal for Tajikistan in judo in Beijing, received a cash bonus of about US$ 2,300 and a car from the government. After that, the country’s Olympic committee stopped funding the athlete and refused to send him on training trips. Soon after the 2008 Olympics, lack of financial support prompted the athlete to work as a taxi driver. In early 2009, Boqiev acquired Russian citizenship, took part in the country’s championship, and said that he wanted to represent Russia in international competitions. However, several weeks later, President Rahmon was elected head of Tajikistan’s Olympic committee, and the country’s aluminum company, TALCO, announced that it will give monthly cash bonuses to the top performing athletes, including Boqiev. After several meetings with Tajik officials, the judo practitioner agreed to continue representing the country.

Tajikistan’s other 2008 Olympic medalist, Yusuf Abdusalomov, who had won a silver medal in men’s wrestling, has also criticized the authorities for leaving him without support. The athlete suffered an injury soon after the Olympics, and Tajikistan refused to pay for his treatment. Even after Abdusalomov recovered from the injury and qualified for the 2012 Olympics, he claimed that the cash bonuses promised by TALCO always arrived late and were not sufficient to cover the expenses needed to prepare for and participate in international competitions.

Hence, Tajik athletes may have more reason to trust the promises made by the opposition party than those made by government officials. So far, fifteen athletes have qualified to represent Tajikistan in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Sports expert Narzullo Latifov has recently suggested that Tajik athletes are not likely to win Olympic gold in London. However, according to Latifov, they can bring home up to three silver or bronze medals, particularly in men’s wrestling and judo, and in both men’s and women’s boxing.

(Published originally in the CACI Analyst on June 13, 2012)

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11 Comments

Filed under Politics, Sports, Tajikistan

11 responses to “Tajik Opposition Party Vows to Reward Olympic Medallists

  1. Tahmina

    For the sake of justice, and to see if the IRPT will stand by its own promise, I hope that among those winning medals for Tajikistan are the several young ethnic Russian female athletes, most of whom are in track and fields. It would be interesting to see how the IRPT will justify awarding an apartment or other lucrative rewards to a possible non-Mulsim female from Tajikistan who, due to the nature of her sport, shows off plenty of skin when representing Tajikistan on the world stage. Somehow, many IRPT members, conservative bearded men and covered females, would be shocked when that happens. “Allah”-willing, it will!

  2. I agree, such a scenario would be quite an interesting test for the IRPT.

  3. I like Tahmina’s comment above. Alexander, is it all the football that inspired this sports-related post?! It was a good read but definitely begs the question: what impact do such promised rewards offer beyond a good news story for the IRPT/government/gift giver? Long-term, what good does a car or a few thousand dollars do if you need to train to compete on a busy international sporting arena? And how does it help other young people who haven’t yet reached prominence get to the point that they are Olympics contenders too?

  4. Well, I think it does make a difference. The number one questions that most young athletes probably have in their mind is this: am I going to make money representing the country? We are all humans, and we all want to eat and live decently. When young athletes see that their sports success is going to be rewarded, they will continue training rather than thinking of quitting and finding another occupation. I think so.

    But you are right that over the long term, there is not going to be much of an impact. The Olympics are a once-in-four-years event. Between the games, Tajik athletes are left to mend for themselves.

  5. And, yes, the Euro 2012 games have boosted my interest in writing about sports :)

  6. Бывший таджикский спортсмен выиграл олимпийскую путевку для Узбекистана

    News.Tj, 21/06/2012

    Душанбинец Сухроб Ходжаев в лицензионных соревнованиях по метанию молота в Казахстане завоевал олимпийскую путевку для Узбекистана. Об этом сообщает информационное агентство 12.uz.

    Это произошло на лицензионном турнире по легкой атлетике в городе Алматы (Казахстан), где метатель молота Сухроб Ходжаев с результатом 74 метра 20 сантиметров поднялся на высшую ступень пьедестала. Таким образом, число олимпийских лицензий, завоеванных спортсменами Узбекистана, достигло 55.

    В составе сборной Таджикистана Сухроб Ходжаев в 2010 году завоевал серебряную медаль молодежного чемпионата мира. Он должен был представлять Таджикистан на Юношеских Олимпийских играх в Сингапуре. Но в последний момент его заменили вторым номером сборной Абдукодиром Баротовым. Кстати, и этот спортсмен тоже находится не в Таджикистане, по словам родственников, он занимается в Белоруссии и хочет выступать за сборную этой страны.

    Тогда официальные источники не объяснили причину замены Ходжаева другим спортсменом. Отец спортсмена Рустам Ходжаев связывал уход сына из сборной тем, что в Таджикистане не было условий для полноценной подготовки. Он тогда заявил: «Мой сын Сухроб мечтает стать чемпионом мира или Олимпийских игр. Если нет высокой цели – в спорте нечего делать. Для него в Таджикистане не смогли создать условия. После того, как Сухроб в Италии занял второе место на чемпионате мира, в течение четырех месяцев он нигде не выступал. Не было условий для роста как спортсмена».

    В Ташкенте Сухроб Ходжаев тренировался под руководством другого уроженца Таджикистана, чемпиона Олимпийских игр 1992 года в метании молота Андрея Абдувалиева.

  7. Сергей Бабиков стал 16 участником Лондонской олимпиады от Таджикистана

    Asia-Plus, 10/07/2012

    Таджикский спортсмен Сергей Бабиков стал 16-м участником Олимпийских Игр в Лондоне от Таджикистана. Об этом «АП» сообщили в Национальном олимпийском комитете Таджикистана.

    Бабиков будет представлять Таджикистан в соревнованиях по пулевой стрельбе. Лицензию на участие ему выдала Международная федерация стрелкового спорта (ISSF). Это третья Олимпиада в спортивной карьере Сергея Бабикова. Он участвовал на Олимпийских Играх 2004 года в Афинах и 2008 года в Пекине.

  8. Председателя Согда и Хатлона обещают наградить призеров Летних олимпийских игр

    Asia-Plus, 18/07/2012

    Глава Согдийской области Кохир Расулзода подписал постановление о материальном вознаграждении согдийских спортсменов – призеров XXX Олимпийских игр.

    Как сообщил «АП» источник в Национальном олимпийском комитете Таджикистана, согласно постановления согдийские спортсмены, занявшие первые месте в Лондоне, получат из областного бюджета по 60 тыс. сомони (12,5 тыс. долларов), серебряные призеры по 40 тыс. сомони (более 8,2 тыс. долларов), бронзовые по 30 тыс. сомони (более 6,2 тыс. долларов).

    При этом представитель НОК Таджикистана уточнил, что из Согдийской области право на участие в Лондонской Олимпиаде заработал только один спортсмен – боксер Джахон Курбонов, который будет выступать в весовой категории 81 кг.

    Аналогичное постановление о награждении призеров подписал председатель Хатлонской области Гайбулло Авзалов. Как он сам сообщил журналистам на пресс-конференции, победители Лондонской олимпиады получат из бюджета области за первое место 50 тыс. сомони, за второе – 30 тыс. сомони и за третье – по 20 тыс. сомони. Путевки для участия в Летних олимпийских играх завоевали три спортсмена из Хатлонской области – Мавзуна Чориева (бокс), Искандар Рустам (вольная борьба) и Парвиз Собиров (дзюдо).

    «Мы надеемся, что наши спортсмены выступят в Лондоне достойно и вернутся с победой», – добавил Авзалов.

    Напомним, право участвовать в Олимпиаде-2012 получили 16 таджикских спортсменов. Это Дильшод Назаров (метание молота), Расул Бокиев и Парвиз Собиров (дзюдо), Алишер Гулов и Фарход Негматов (таэквон-до WTF), Анвар Юнусов, Собирджон Назаров, Мавзуна Чориева и Джахон Курбонов (бокс), Искандар Рустам, Юсуф Абдусаломов, Зелимхан Юсуфов, Николай Ноев (вольная борьба), Екатерина Измайлова (плавание, вольный стиль, 50 м), Сергей Бабиков (пулевая стрельба) и Владислава Овчаренко (легкая атлетика, бег на 200 м).

  9. Tajik ‘million dollar baby’ punches way to London

    The Sun Daily, 18 July 2012

    Tajikistan is for the first time sending a female boxer to the London Olympics who is on a mission not only to win but to smash gender stereotypes in the religiously conservative ex-Soviet state.

    Mavzuna Choriyeva, 19, won her ticket to the Olympics at a qualifying competition in Beijing earlier this year and will be the only competitor from ex-Soviet Central Asia in the boxing competition.

    Continue reading

  10. Athletes Switching Nationalities In Spotlight At London Olympics

    RFE/RL, July 15, 2012

    Changing passports to compete for another country has long been common practice among athletes. But as the Olympic Games prepare to kick off in London, the growing incidence of nationality switches is raising eyebrows…

    “Plastic athletes” are also causing resentment in cash-strapped nations that are seeing their best sporting hopes defect to wealthier countries.

    The talented hammer-thrower Sukhrob Khodzhaev, for instance, caused a stir in his native Tajikistan when he unexpectedly switched over to Uzbekistan three years ago.

    Tajikistan, which had planned to send Khodzhaev to the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, was outraged after learning that he intended to represent Uzbekistan at the competition.

    Following almost a year of negotiations, it was agreed that Khodzhaev would not attend the Singapore Games at all — although he will compete for Uzbekistan in London.

    Nargis Nabieva, the head of the sports department at Tajikistan’s Committee on Youth Affairs, told RFE/RL that the Uzbek Olympic Committee had sent a letter that said “Sukhrob had become an Uzbek citizen of his own accord.”

    Nabieva added that the athlete’s family had been complaining about his salary in Tajikistan…

  11. ПИВТ поощрила спортсменов Согда

    News.tj, 04/10/2012

    Согдийская областная ячейка Партии исламского возрождения Таджикистана провела в среду в Худжанде церемонию награждения спортсменов области, отличившихся на международных соревнованиях.

    Как сообщил «АП» в штаб-квартире ПИВТ, ценные подарки в виде бытовой техники и почетные грамоты от партии получили около 20 согдийских спортсменов.

    Согласно сообщению источника, выступившая на церемонии экс-чемпионка мира по стрельбе из лука, прославленная таджикская спортсменка Зебуниссо Рустамова подчеркнула, что организованное партией мероприятие по чествованию спортсменов может стать примером для многих бизнесменов, представителей политических партий, «всех тех, кому небезразлично будущее таджикского спорта».

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