Although Mongolian circus performers are ranked third in world for consistently winning gold, silver and bronze medals from ‘A’ grade competitions, the Mongolian National Circus no longer really exists. Most Mongolian circus performers are now split into several groups, contracted to different organisations; some have even immigrated due to being unable to train in the country.
All Mongolians know that former sumo grand champion Asashoryu D.Dagvadorj (Asa) privatized the National Circus in 2008. After that, it has been mockingly referred to as the ‘Asa’ Circus. Unfortunately, Asa has proved a disastrous manager. For example, as part of the so-called Circus Expansion Project he opened a high-priced restaurant entitled “Grand Circus”. What is worse, now circus performers have to pay a monthly leasing fee of MNT 15 million for actually training in the circus! Today, the iconic circus building in central Ulaanbaatar hosts concerts and meetings, but, unfortunately, no circus performances
The Mongolian National Circus was built in 1971 with a Romanian loan equivalent to USD 7.4 million. Ya.Sharkhuu was the architect in charge of the design for the building; he got the idea from the traditional round hat worn by women in Ulaanbaatar.
The Mongolian National Circus used to host eight circus performances a week – or 1400 a year between 1971 and 2008. Between 70-75 percent of seats in the building used to be filled each time circus performances were held. In those days, the circus used to entertain nearly 890,000 people each year, it employed over 50 amazing performers and 80 part-time actors as well as 50 animals.
One can only ask, in this time of free-market economics, was the government right in selling the much-loved and world famous Mongolian National Circus?