Asian Games: Proposal to include Oceania attracts opposition
Incheon: Slowly but steadily, a lot of opposition is beginning to build up against the plan to include Oceania in Asian Games at some point is building up in Asia.
The Asian Rugby Football Union and the Asian Rowing Federation have sounded the warning bells according to a leading sports website, www.insidethegames.biz.
The two federations feel that the development of rugby and rowing could suffer if Oceania, primarily Australia and New Zealand are included in the Games.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah had in the earlier part of this week said that Oceania with its 18 members would be invited to take part in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games 2017 in Ashgabat, Azerbaijan.
The proposal was welcomed by Australia, but many of the Asian countries have expressed apprehension.
The reason is that funding of various disciplines in many of the countries is dependent on medals from Asian Games.
Trevor Gregory and Ken Lee, the President and secretary general of the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) and the Asian Rowing Federation respectively, told the website that they fear many countries will be unable to compete in future and there would repercussions for their sports in Asia.
Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa are among the countries HSBC Sevens World Series Rankings, while the top Asian country is Japan in 16th place.
Gregory told South China Morning Post, "Bringing in Oceania will mean less chance of Hong Kong winning a medal, then what will happen to our status at the HKSI (Hong Kong Sports Institute)?"
He added, "It is one thing to win a medal against the rest of Asia, and another against sides like New Zealand and Fiji.
It will be great to play against these top sides, but then the HKRFU would have to talk to the people at the HKSI and say these changes will have an impact on the criteria for elite status as far as rugby sevens is concerned."
New Zealand are among the top nations in the world in rowing and that would seriously impact rowing in smaller countries in Asia.