Mayor prom­ises “fun” 2026 Asian Games as OCA cu ails sched­ule

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

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.

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