Asian Games: OCA plans to experiment with tennis, but has no plans to cut games

Incheon: Spiralling costs and rapidly increasing number of athletes, officials and media, a direct fallout of increase in the number of disciplines to an all-time high of 42 in Guangzhou pushed the Olympic Council of Asia into reducing the number of disciplines in Incheon to 36.

Indian players tackle an Iranian at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. Pic/Getty Images
Indian players tackle an Iranian at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. Pic/Getty Images 

But the Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah of Kuwait, the President of OCA, is very clear that there will be no further reduction. He ensured that non-Olympic sports and indigenous sports from different Asian countries, including kabaddi, will continue to have their place in the quadrennial Asian Games.

"There are no further plans to reduce the number of sports in the Asian Games because the Games must give the athletes exposure to Olympic Games sports disciplines while also promoting Asian sports such as kabaddi, sepaktakraw, karate and wushu and providing a stepping stone to the Olympic programme.

"We want to keep our Games as a landmark," he added.

Yet at the same time, the OCA is not averse to experimenting by adding tennis to the fifth edition of Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMG) for 2017. He called it an experiment, but added in the same breath that tennis was in no danger of being axed, now or in near future. Tennis will be added to the programme at the AIMG in 2017 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

The OCA is also mindful about how big the Games have grown with number of disciplines and attendees. Even if the attendance at the Opening Ceremony in Incheon was lean in the general stands, it was almost packed in the VIP area, where the attendees included Thomas Bach, the IOC President.

The OCA President said, "The opening ceremony was excellent. Related to the size of the budget, they delivered a very beautiful opening ceremony attended by the IOC President, more than 30 IOC members and a lot of International Federations. This confirms the Asian Games as the second biggest Games after the Olympic Games."

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