COVID-19: Mongolia's traditional Naadam festival goes online due to coronavirus fears

COVID-19: Mongolia's traditional Naadam festival goes online due to coronavirus fears
Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Mark Armstrong with AFP
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied

Mongolia's Naadam sporting festival goes ahead behind closed doors but a select audience, including politicians, caused some resentment on the streets


In Central Asia, Mongolia's Naadam sporting festival kicked-off at the weekend but without the usual crowds of spectators due to Covid-19 fears.

For the first time in its 800-year history, only a handful of guests - including top politicians - were permitted to attend in person.

At a ranch near the capital Ulaanbaatar, contestants in the traditional games demonstrated what's known as the "three manly skills" of horsemanship, wrestling and archery.

Most Mongolians were only able to watch the games on live broadcasts.

But on the city's near-deserted streets, the atmosphere was far from festive as the country comes to grips with coronavirus.

"We can't watch the horse racing," said one resident. "The roads are blocked and it's only accessible to the rich people. And they are the ones who closed the roads since this morning. I don't know what the Nadaam opening ceremony looked like."

Some residents were resentful that the festival had gone ahead at all.

"The government should have distributed the money to general public. We are struggling here. That money could have gone to people like us," complained one man.

Mongolia, which borders Russia and China, has so far reported only 227 virus cases and no deaths but continues to enforce a strict border lockdown that has prompted protests by citizens stranded overseas.

The country has lifted some coronavirus-related restrictions in recent days, allowing cinemas and nightclubs to reopen with limited hours, although political protests and most sporting events are still banned.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

COVID-19: India adds over 28,000 new coronavirus cases

Pope praises Mongolia as China shuns history

Pope Francis opens clinic on 1st papal visit to Mongolia. He says it's about charity not conversion