Beijing Olympics


Kazakh President Runs First Leg of Olympic Torch Relay

April 03, 2008 02:10 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Central Asian country is counting on the relay as a source of positive publicity, but still can’t shed the “Borat” association.

30-Second Summary

On April 2 the Olympic torch made its first post-China stop in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the country’s economic hub and former capital.

Wearing a white track suit with a necktie, Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of the oil-rich former Soviet republic, jogged a few symbolic steps with the torch before passing it to Kazakh Olympic boxing champion Bakhityar Artayev.

Eighty national celebrities, including politicians and athletes, took turns with the torch at the event in Medeu, a ski resort town just south of Almaty.

Nazarbayev was quoted by state news agency Kazinform as saying, “I am confident that the Beijing Olympic Mission will clear the way to the global development of sports in the 21st century.”

Still, much of the event’s media coverage made mention of the 2006 Sasha Baron Cohen mockumentary “Borat: ‘Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan.’”

Kazakhstan is eager to shake off its association with the comic character, who portrays the country as backward economically, culturally and socially.

The country’s oil wealth has revived Almaty, as international companies have moved in and Kazakhstan is no longer considered a hardship post by Western diplomats. Indeed nightlife in Almaty bears few parallels to the chicken-chasing games portrayed in “Borat,” with dancing in sky-high designer heels more the vibe.

Headline Links: ‘Olympic Torch Passed to Kazakhstan’

Audio & Video: Bearing the torch

'Beijing Olympic Flame in Almaty'
‘Secrets of the Olympic Torch Trailblazers’

Background: Kazakhstans, real and fictional

Reactions: ‘2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to boost global development of sports’

Historical Context: ‘If You Want To Know A Secret ...’

Key Players: Nursultan Nazarbayev (1940– )

Reference: The 2008 Olympic torch itinerary

Related Topics: ‘Tibet Adds to Challenges Facing Olympic Torch Bearer’


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