On 30 December 2017 Kunming, the capital of the PRC's Yunnan Province, hosted the first PRC-SCO International Forum for Sports and Fitness, timed to coincide with the SCO International Marathon that was scheduled to take place in the City of Eternal Spring on New Year's Eve.
In his remarks at the forum, the SCO Secretary-General pointed out that the SCO member states were committed to promoting cultural and humanitarian cooperation, including in healthcare, education and tourism.
"The heads of the delegations taking part in the recent meeting of the SCO Heads of Government Council highlighted the importance of cooperation in the field of sports for promoting traditional sports disciplines and strengthening friendly relations among the peoples of the SCO member states," Mr Alimov said.
The Secretary-General noted that the professional level and broad geography of the running enthusiasts who registered for the marathon were highly satisfactory. "High-profile athletes will compete in the Second SCO International Marathon alongside running enthusiasts of all ages, young and old, and people with disabilities, representing more than 27 countries and their diverse peoples, traditions and cultures. They will all be united by their shared commitment to a healthy lifestyle, improving their bodies and soles. It doesn't matter what distance they run, 42,195 metres or the SCO mile of 2,017 metres. What matters is that they have made running an integral part of their lives, a vital necessity; running helps them improve endurance, train their willpower and improve their lives. Every one of the participants has learned to get up before sunrise," Mr Alimov said.
Many professional associations and non-governmental organisations working within the SCO in sports, fitness, cultural and humanitarian cooperation attended the forum. The SCO Secretary-General said that he hoped that "the high level representatives will engage in a detailed and interested exchange of views on the most relevant matters related to cooperation in these areas."
Dilshod Nazarov, gold medal winner at the 2016 Rio Olympics, four-time winner of the Asian Athletics Championships in the hammer throw, and also Deputy Head of the Committee for Youth Affairs and Sport in the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan and President of Tajikistan's Athletics Federation, attended the forum as the guest of honour.
The forum's opening ceremony also featured presentations by Deputy Governor of Yunnan Province Gao Feng, Vice Minister of the State General Administration of Sports Li Yingchuan and head of the Chinese Physical Fitness Association Guo Yu.
As many as 350 people attended the forum, including ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps from 13 countries of the SCO Family accredited in China, leaders of Yunnan Province and the city of Kunming, sports activists, officials and coaches, leading experts, local and international journalists, as well as academia.
The PRC-SCO International Forum for Sports and Fitness was one of the main events in the run-up to the second SCO Kunming International Marathon to be held on New Year's Eve on 31 December 2017, bringing together 16,000 athletes from 27 countries.