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Camels, Color Kick-off Mongolia's Naadam Festival

  • Reuters

Mongolian horsemen in traditional outfits stand with their mounts before a horse racing competition during the second day of the Naadam Festival in Khui Doloon Khudag, on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 12, 2016.

Mongolian horsemen in traditional outfits stand with their mounts before a horse racing competition during the second day of the Naadam Festival in Khui Doloon Khudag, on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 12, 2016.

Mongolians celebrated the start of the revered Naadam festival in Ulaanbaatar with a traditional opening ceremony featuring burly wrestlers, camel riding and traditional dance.

President Tsakhia Elbegdorj presided over the opening of the three-day event on Monday, with more than 2,000 participants packed into the National Stadium in the capital. The ceremony was aired live on television.

Naadam centers around the three "men's sports" of horse racing, wrestling and archery, which have been practiced since the time of 13th century warlord and national hero Genghis Khan.

Competitors come from around the country to take part in the festival, which has been held for hundreds of years.

Wrestlers wearing cloth pants and sleeves over their arms and shoulders are traditionally the most popular competitors with the public, while child jockeys battle it out in horse races for prize money.

Also growing in popularity is "Shagai," a sport which sees competitors flick part of a sheep's ankle at a target also made of bone.

In recent years, female competitions have been included in archery and horse racing in a break from the all-male tradition.

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