Hangzhou promises top-notch, special Asiad for 2022

Chinese performers at the closing ceremony of the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta on Sunday, with 2022 hosts Hangzhou the third Chinese city to organise the biennial multi-sport event.
Chinese performers at the closing ceremony of the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta on Sunday, with 2022 hosts Hangzhou the third Chinese city to organise the biennial multi-sport event.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

JAKARTA • Since the 1982 edition of the Asian Games in New Delhi, it has become somewhat of a quadrennial ritual for China to turn up at the continent's premier multi-sports event and walk off with a lion's share of the medals.

And China followed that script in Jakarta and Palembang, continuing their domination of the region's sporting arena with 132 golds.

Although a largely inexperienced contingent bereft of weightlifters - the country is serving a 12-month ban in the sport following multiple doping violations - secured 19 fewer golds than they managed at Incheon four years ago, the tournament has been an overall success for Chinese athletes.

And preparatory work for the next instalment in the city of Hangzhou is already in full swing.

Famous for its scenic lake, it is the third Chinese city to host the world's second-largest multi-sports event after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010.

The Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (Hagoc) has promised an event of the "highest possible standards" and officials are laying the groundwork towards that goal.

"We assure you it will meet the highest possible standards in staging a special edition of the Asian Games with Chinese grandeur and a Hangzhou flavour," said Xu Jianfeng, Hagoc's deputy director of international relations.

According to the progress report presented to the assembly, the 2022 Games have now confirmed 34 sports, with 52 venues to be used for the competition.

In order to ensure smooth preparations for the Games, Xu added that Hangzhou will speed up the construction of supporting infrastructure in the city, including 10 new metro lines and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will spearhead the support.

There might also be a change of name for Chinese Taipei competitors at the next Games, after Taiwanese campaigners yesterday submitted hundreds of thousands of signatures, asking for the self-ruled island to compete as Taiwan instead at the Olympics.

An organisation called Team Taiwan Campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics collected more than 520,000 signatures, paving the way for a referendum that will incense Beijing.

Taiwan is forced to compete as Chinese Taipei at the Olympics and other international sports competitions because China is particularly sensitive to any use of Taiwanese emblems and flags.

Another contentious issue that arose at the Asiad may also result in stricter criteria before granting South Korean athletes military service exemption, after the country's football and baseball teams gained a reprieve with their gold medals.

Ki Chan-soo, commissioner of the South Korean Military Manpower Administration, yesterday hinted that the rule could be amended. "We're planning a comprehensive re-examination of the system in the areas of sport and art," he told Yonhap news agency.

"We're already running short of military personnel resources so we'll start by looking into whether the exemption programme is fair."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2018, with the headline 'Hangzhou promises top-notch, special Asiad for 2022'. Print Edition | Subscribe