Mayor promises “fun” 2026 Asian Games as OCA cu ails schedule
JAPAN’S central Aichi prefecture and its capital city Nagoya were confirmed as co-hosts of the 2026 Asian Games yesterday, adding another major event to the country’s bulging international sports calendar as the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) voted to cut back an ambitious regional schedule of competitions.
The OCA formally endorsed Nagoya’s bid after Aichi prefecture governor Hideaki Ohumra and Nagoya city mayor Takashi Kawamura presented their plan for a joint-financed games to the OCA general assembly in Danang.
Kawamura promised that the Games would be fun, and even serenaded the assembly with a verse from the Elvis Presley song “Can’t Help Falling in Love” to prove the point.
As the lone bidder for the Games, Japan’s proposal was rubber-stamped by the assembly and the host contract signed by the OCA and delegates.
The OCA also decided yesterday to streamline some of Asia’s other major regional events, which have grown spectacularly from humble beginnings. The Asian Beach Games, currently taking place in Danang for its fifth iteration, will now be held every four years instead of every two. Founded in 2008, the next edition was supposed to take place in 2018 but has been postponed until 2020.
The 2017 Asian Youth Games, due to be held in Jakarta, will now take place in 2021. The Games, which were first held in 2009, were originally due to take place in Sri Lanka but were switched to Indonesia, mainly as a test event for the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.
OCA president Sheikh Ahmad AlFahad Al-Sabah also announced limits on the number of competitors at the Asian Games, which is second in size only to the Olympics, with more than 10,000 competitors and 5000 officials from 45 countries and regions as well as 4000 technical staff, 8000 media and 30,000 volunteers.
Until now, countries have been allowed to enter as many athletes as they liked but the OCA said each nation would be restricted to a maximum of two competitors in each individual event.
The OCA had originally planned to choose the 2026 Asian Games host in 2018 but brought the vote forward to provide some certainty to the region’s crammed sporting calendar which includes three Olympic events over the next eight years.
“Asia will host a lot of international events for a lot of international federations ... so we want to try and make a very stable program for our different events,” Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad AlSabah told the assembly in Danang.
South Korea is hosting the Winter Olympics at Pyeonchang in 2018, while Tokyo hosts the 2020 Summer Olympics before the winter games go to Beijing in 2022.
Japan will also host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the Asian Winter Games in 2017 (see related story left) and the world swimming championships in 2021.
Meanwhile, the OCA general assembly agreed to set up five regional offices while it tries to resolve a dispute with Kuwait, which houses the OCA headquarters.
Kuwait will remain the sub-centre for West Asia, while offices will be established in Bangkok, Almaty, Delhi, Nansha in China and Lausanne, where the International Olympic Committee is based.
Kuwait was banned from the Rio Olympics after the government was accused of interference in its national Olympic Committee, and the contract for the OCA to remain at its headquarters in Kuwait remains in limbo.