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Asian Games Facts

Asian Games: past, present and future - 10 facts you need to know
  • The origins of the Asian Games go back to 1912 when the Japanese empire, the Philippine island, and China got together to organize the Far Eastern Games. The following year, the first Far Eastern Games were held in Manila. Between 1913 and 1934, more than 10 such games were organized.

  • In the post-World War 2 era, there was renewed interest in a modern pan-Asian sporting event. With the backing of the International Olympic Committee, the Asian Games came into being. The inaugural games were held in New Delhi, India, in 1951. They celebrated the spirit of both a resurgent Asia and a newly independent India.

  • The sports included in first Asian Games were athletics, baseball, aquatics, football, weightlifting, and cycling. Other than the host nation, more than 480 athletes from Japan, Burma, Ceylon, Afghanistan, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Nepal, and Iran competed in 57 events. Japan led the medal tally with 24 gold medals, and India stood second with 15 gold.

  • The Asian Games Federation was in charge of the games from 1951 till 1978, when the eighth edition of the games was held in Bangkok, Thailand. Starting from the next Asian Games in 1982 in New Delhi, a new association—the Olympic Council of Asia—took charge of organizing the games.

  • The Asian Games have expanded tremendously in scope and spectacle from their beginnings in 1951. The 2010 edition of the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, saw the participation of more than 9,700 athletes from 45 National Olympic Committees in 42 sports, making them the biggest games thus far.

  • The 2010 Guangzhou games saw the debut of Twenty20 cricket as a sporting event. Besides, dancesport, dragon boat, roller sport, and weiqi were unique to these games. Another first in 2010 was that the opening and closing ceremonies were not held in a stadium, but along a river in Haixinsha Island.

  • South Korea will play hosts to the Asian Games in Incheon in 2014, for the third time. Previously, the games were held in capital Seoul in 1986 and Busan in 2002. A total of 4,839 athletes from 27 nations participated in 270 events in Seoul, making it the biggest sporting event of the city after World War 2 until 1986.

  • The 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan, saw the former Soviet republics Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan competing for the first time. This was also the first occasion when the games were not held in the host country’s capital city.

  • Only two countries—Japan and China—have been overall winners in the medals tally in the Asian Games. While Japan led the medal count in the first three decades, it’s been China all the way from the 1982 Asian Games. China won 61 gold in the 1982 New Delhi games, ahead of Japan’s 57 gold. Besides these two sporting giants, South Korea is among the top Asian performers, and stood second in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.

  • After the 17th edition of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, the subsequent games will not be held on even-number years in the middle of the Summer Olympics. Asia’s Olympic Council has decided to shift the 18th Asian Games to 2019—one year before the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. And the venue of the 18th Asian Games is Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.

Last Updated on: June 29, 2020