Alcohol stores have been closed down and alcoholic products taken off the shelves of shops in the capital of Turkmenistan ahead of a major international athletic completion next month.

Merchants at several stores said authorities had ordered alcohol sales be halted until October, after the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games conclude.

The competition in Ashgabat, the country's capital, takes place between September 17 and 27.

There has been no announcement from the government of a ban.

Traders who raised their concerns did not give their names, reflecting concern about the authoritarian country's intolerance of criticism.

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has made sports and physical fitness a top initiative and has launched a programme to make the country tobacco-free by 2025.

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