By Nigar Orujova
53 athletes competing in nine disciplines will represent Azerbaijan at the third Islamic Solidarity Games to be held in Indonesia from September 22 until October 2.
The national team will join such sports as athletics, weightlifting, karate, taekwondo, badminton, tennis, archery, swimming, and wushu.
The Azerbaijani team will consist of outstanding athletes, including Hayle Ibrahimov, Layes Adbullayeva, Intiqam Zairov, Sardar Hasanov, Silvia Angelova, Zulfuqar Suleymanov, Radik Isayev, Gunay Agakishiyeva, Rafael Agayev, Shahin Atamov, and Aykhan Mamayev.
The national team will try to bring home as many medals as possible, especially since Azerbaijan was chosen as a host country for the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games due from June 23 to July 2, 2017.
The Games, which will bring together athletes from 57 countries, will be held under the slogan "Solidarity is our power". More than 160 Azerbaijani sportsmen will participate in the Games. The Muslim religion of all athletes is not a pre-condition for participation in the competition.
The Islamic Solidarity Games is a multinational, multi-sport event involving the elite athletes of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the UN with 57 member states spread over four continents.
The first of the ISG tournaments was held in 2005 in Saudi Arabia with an Olympic-style tournament aimed at showing Muslim sports prowess and featuring 6,000 athletes.
Azerbaijan gained four gold, four silver and seven bronze medals at the first ISG, thus becoming the eighth country in the medal table.
The second event, originally scheduled to take place in October 2009 in Iran, and later re-scheduled for April 2010, was cancelled after a dispute emerged between Iran and the Arab countries.