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Why the Asian Games matter

The 18th edition, which just ended in Indonesia, was once again a vital platform for continental skill

The sound of adoration can be a profound one. At the Istora stadium in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, as the crowd hollered and hooted, it was the sort of familiar frenzy you find in sport, and yet its subtext was beautiful. In a nation with the world's largest Muslim population, they were cheering a man making the sign of the cross. Jonatan Christie had won the badminton singles gold and they were telling him he was theirs.

Two journalists from India told me this story the next day and they recounted it with a smile. The word was spreading. The symbolism had not gone unnoticed. In this briefly united Asia, in shorts and skirts, we sometimes find the better parts of ourselves.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2018, with the headline 'Why the Asian Games matter'. Print Edition | Subscribe