Asian Games

Asian Games
Abbreviation Asiad
First event 1951 Asian Games in New Delhi, India
Occur every four years
Last event 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea
Purpose Multi sport event for nations on the Asian continent

The Asian Games, also known as Asiad,[1] is a Pancontinental multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia. The Games were regulated by the Asian Games Federation (AGF) from the first Games in New Delhi, India, until the 1978 Games. Since the 1982 Games they have been organized by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), after the breakup of the Asian Games Federation.[2] The Games are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and are described as the second largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.[3][4]

In its history, nine nations have hosted the Asian Games. Forty-six nations have participated in the Games, including Israel, which was excluded from the Games after their last participation in 1974.

The most recent games was held in Incheon, South Korea from 19 September to 4 October 2014, while the next games will be held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia from 18 August to 2 September 2018.


Prior formation

Before the Asian Games were held, a gathering known as the Far Eastern Championship Games existed which was first mooted in 1912 at a location set between the Empire of Japan, the Philippine Islands, and China. The Far Eastern Games were first held in Manila in 1913 with 6 participating nations. Ten more Far Eastern Games were held until 1934. Against the backdrop of the second Sino-Japanese War in 1934, in the face of Japan's insistence on including Manchu Empire as a competitor nation in the Games, China announced its withdrawal from participation. Consequently, the Far Eastern Games scheduled for 1938 were cancelled. The organization was ultimately discontinued.


After World War II, a number of Asian countries became independent. Many of the newly independent Asian countries desired the formation of a new type of competition whereby Asian dominance was not expressed through violence, but instead strengthened through mutual understanding. During the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, a conversation between sportsmen from China and the Philippines raised the idea of restoring the Far Eastern Games. However, Guru Dutt Sondhi, the Indian International Olympic Committee representative, did not believe that restoration of the Far Eastern Games would sufficiently display the spirit of unity and level of achievement taking place in Asian sports. As a result, he proposed to sports leaders the idea of having a wholly new competition  – which came to be the Asian Games. This led to an agreement to form the Asian Athletic Federation. A preparatory committee was then set up to draft the charter for this new body. On 13 February 1949, the Asian Athletic Federation was formally inaugurated in New Delhi, alongside the name Asian Games Federation, with New Delhi announced as the first host city of the Asian Games which were scheduled to be held in 1950.[5][6]

Crisis, reorganization, expansion

Starting in 1962, the Games were hit by several crises. First, the host country Indonesia, refused to permit the participation of Israel and Taiwan due to political and religious issues. As a result, the IOC removed its sponsorship of the Games and terminated Indonesia as one of the IOC members.[7] The Asian Football Confederation (AFC),[8] International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) and International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), also removed their recognition of the Games.[9][10]

In 1970, South Korea dropped its plan to host the Games allegedly due to national security crisis, however the main reason was due to financial crisis, forcing the previous host Thailand to administer the Games again in Bangkok using funds transferred from South Korea.[11] Prior to the Games, Japan was asked to host the Games, but declined due to Expo '70 in Osaka.[12] This edition also marked the first time the Games have a television broadcasting throughout the world.[13] In Tehran, in 1974, the Games formally recognized the participation of China, North Korea and Mongolia. Israel was allowed to participate despite the opposition from Arab world, while Taiwan was permitted to continue taking part (as "Chinese Taipei") even though its status was abolished in general meeting on 16 November 1973 by Games Federation.[14]

The last is 1978, Pakistan dropped its plan to host the Games in 1975 due to financial crisis and political issues.[15] Thailand offered to help and the Games were once again held in Bangkok. However, once again, like in 1962, Taiwan and Israel were refused the participation by Games Federation, amid political issues and security fears.[16] Several governing bodies protested against the ban, like IAAF, threatened to bar the participating players from 1980 Summer Olympics,[17] this caused several teams to withdraw prior to the Games.[18]

Following this series of crises, the National Olympic Committee in Asia decided to revise the constitution of the Asian Games Federation. A new association, named the Olympic Council of Asia, was created in November 1981 with the exclusion of Israel.[19] India was already scheduled to host the 1982 Games and the OCA decided not to drop the old AGF timetable. The OCA formally supervised the Games starting with the 1986 Asian Games in South Korea.[20] In the succeeding Games, Taiwan (Republic of China) was re-admitted, but was forced by the China to compete under the name Chinese Taipei.[21]

In 1994, the Games included the former republics of the Soviet Union: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan for the first time. It was also the first time that the Games had been held outside the capital city of the host country.[22] However, Iraq was suspended from the Games due to the Persian Gulf War in 1990, while North Korea boycotted the Games due to political issues. It was also marred by the death of Nepalese delegation Nareshkumar Adhikari during the Games' opening ceremony.[23] The 1998 Games marked the fourth time the Games had been held in Bangkok, Thailand. The fourth opening ceremony occurred on 6 December, compared to 9 December for the previous 3. All four games were opened by H.M.King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The date of the closing ceremony remained as 20 December for all 4 games hosted by Thailand.


The Asian Games Movement uses symbols to represent the ideals embodied in the Asian Games charter. The Asian Games flag has four editions.


All 45 members affiliated to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) are eligible to take part in the Games.

According to membership in the OCA, transcontinental Kazakhstan participates in the Asian Games but Egypt does not, participating in the All-Africa Games instead. Various countries participating in the European Games rather than the Asian Games are partially or fully in Asia: Turkey, Russia (major parts in Asia); Azerbaijan, Georgia (almost completely in Asia); Cyprus, Armenia, Israel (fully in Asia).

In history, 46 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) have sent competitors to the Games. Israel has been excluded from the Games since 1976, the reason cited as being due to security reasons.[24] Israel requested to participate in the 1982 Games, but the request was rejected by the organizers due to the Munich massacre.[25] Israel is now a member of the European Olympic Committees (EOC).

Taiwan, Palestine, Hong Kong, and Macau participate in the Asian Games according to membership in OCA. Due to its continuing ambiguous political status, Taiwan participates in the Games under the flag of Chinese Taipei since 1990. Macau NOC is allowed to compete as one of the NOCs in Asian Games, despite not being recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for participation in the Olympic Games.

In 2007, the President of OCA, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, rejected proposal to allow Australia to participate in the Games. He stated that while Australia would add good value to the Asian Games, it would be unfair to the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC).[26] Being members of ONOC, Australia and New Zealand participates in Pacific Games since 2015. However this motion was mooted again in 2017 after Australia participation in 2017 Winter Games as they are in discussions of become full Asian Games member from 2022 or 2026.[27]

Only seven countries, namely India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Thailand have competed in all editions of the games.

List of Asian Games

Games Year Host Nation Host City Opened by Date Sports Events Nations Competitors Top Nation Ref
I 1951  India New Delhi President Rajendra Prasad 4–11 March 6 57 11 489  Japan (JPN) [28]
II 1954  Philippines Manila President Ramon Magsaysay 1–9 May 8 76 18 970  Japan (JPN) [29]
III 1958  Japan Tokyo Emperor Hirohito 24 May – 1 June 13 97 20 1,820  Japan (JPN) [30]
IV 1962  Indonesia Jakarta President Sukarno 24 August – 4 September 13 120 17 1,460  Japan (JPN) [31]
V 1966  Thailand Bangkok King Bhumibol Adulyadej 9–20 December 14 143 18 1,945  Japan (JPN) [32]
VI 1970  Thailand Bangkok King Bhumibol Adulyadej 9–20 December 13 135 18 2,400  Japan (JPN) [33]
VII 1974  Iran Tehran Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi 1–16 September 16 202 25 3,010  Japan (JPN) [34]
VIII 1978  Thailand Bangkok King Bhumibol Adulyadej 9–20 December 19 201 25 3,842  Japan (JPN) [35]
IX 1982  India New Delhi President Zail Singh 19 November – 4 December 21 199 33 3,411  China (CHN) [36]
X 1986  South Korea Seoul President Chun Doo-hwan 20 September – 5 October 25 270 27 4,839  China (CHN) [37]
XI 1990  China Beijing President Yang Shangkun 22 September – 7 October 29 310 36 6,122  China (CHN) [38]
XII 1994  Japan Hiroshima Emperor Akihito 2–16 October 34 337 42 6,828  China (CHN) [39]
XIII 1998  Thailand Bangkok King Bhumibol Adulyadej 6–20 December 36 376 41 6,554  China (CHN) [40]
XIV 2002  South Korea Busan President Kim Dae-jung 29 September – 14 October 38 419 44 7,711  China (CHN) [41]
XV 2006  Qatar Doha Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani 1–15 December 39 424 45 9,520  China (CHN) [42]
XVI 2010  China Guangzhou Premier Wen Jiabao 12–27 November 42 476 45 9,704  China (CHN) [43]
XVII 2014  South Korea Incheon President Park Geun-hye 19 September–4 October 36 439 45 9,501  China (CHN) [44]
XVIII 2018  Indonesia Jakarta-Palembang TBA 18 August – 2 September Future event
XIX 2022  China Hangzhou TBA 10–25 September Future event
XX 2026  Japan Nagoya TBA Future event


Fifty one sports, spanning 39 different disciplines and nearly 400 events, have been part of the Asian Games program at one point or another, including 2018 Games in Jakarta and Palembang. The most program was forty-two sports, have comprised the schedule for 2010 Games.

Sport Years
Archery Since 1978
Athletics All
Badminton Since 1962
Baseball Since 1994
Basketball All
Board games 2006–2010
Bodybuilding 2002–2006
Bowling 1978, 1986, since 1994
Boxing Since 1954
Canoeing Since 1986
Contract bridge 2018 only
Cricket 2010–2014
Cue sports 1998–2010
Cycling 1951, since 1958
Dancesport 2010 only
Dragon boat 2010 only
Diving All
Equestrian 1982–1986, since 1994
Fencing 1974–1978, since 1986
Field hockey Since 1958
Football All
Golf Since 1982
Gymnastics Since 1974
Handball Since 1982
Judo Since 1986
Sport Years
Kabaddi Since 1990
Karate Since 1994
Martial art sports 2018 only
Mechanical sports 2018 only
Modern pentathlon 1994, 2002, since 2010
Roller sports 2010
Rowing Since 1982
Rugby sevens Since 1998
Sailing 1970, since 1978
Sepak takraw Since 1990
Shooting Since 1954
Sport climbing 2018 only
Softball since 1990
Soft tennis since 1990
Squash since 1998
Swimming All
Synchronized Swimming Since 1994
Table tennis 1958–1966, since 1974
Taekwondo 1986, since 1994
Tennis 1958–1966, since 1974
Triathlon Since 2006
Volleyball Since 1958
Water polo All
Weightlifting 1951–1958, since 1966
Wrestling Since 1954
Wushu Since 1990


Sport Disciplines Years
Aquatics Diving All
Swimming All
Synchronized Swimming Since 1994
Water polo All
Baseball Baseball All
Softball All
Basketball Basketball All
3-on-3 basketball 2018 only
Board games Chess 2006–2010
Go 2010
Xiangqi 2010
Canoeing Slalom canoeing Since 2010
Sprint canoeing Since 1990
Cycling BMX racing Since 2010
Mountain biking 1998–2002, since 2010
Road cycling 1951, since 1958
Track cycling 1951, 1958, since 1966
Equestrian Dressage 1986, since 1994
Endurance 2006 only
Eventing 1982–1986, since 1998
Jumping 1982–1986, since 1994
Tent pegging 1986 only
Gymnastics Artistic gymnastics Since 1974
Rhythmic gymnastics Since 1994
Trampoline Since 2006
Martial art sports Jujutsu 2018 only
Pencak silat 2018 only
Wushu 2018 only ¹
Mechanical sports Paragliding 2018 only
Jetski 2018 only
Roller sports Artistic roller skating 2010 only
Roller speed skating 2010 only
Rugby union Rugby union 1998–2002
Rugby sevens Since 1998
Tennis Tennis 1958–1966, since 1974
Soft tennis Since 1994
Volleyball Volleyball Since 1958
Nine-a-side volleyball 1958–1962
Beach volleyball Since 1998

Medal count

Of the 45 National Olympic Committees participating throughout the history of the Games, 43 nations have won at least a single medal in the competition, leaving three nations: Bhutan, Maldives and Timor-Leste yet to win a single medal. 37 nations have won at least one gold medal (only Japan and India have done so at every Asian Games), while Japan and China became the only two nations in history to emerge as overall champions.

 Rank  Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 China (CHN) 1342 900 653 2895
2 Japan (JPN) 957 980 913 2850
3 South Korea (KOR) 696 606 761 2063
4 Iran (IRI) 159 161 175 495
5 Kazakhstan (KAZ) 140 141 200 481
6 India (IND) 139 178 299 616
7 Thailand (THA) 121 159 233 513
8 North Korea (PRK) 98 132 166 396
9 Chinese Taipei (TPE) 82 125 245 452
10 Philippines (PHI) 63 112 215 390

Samsung MVP award

Samsung introduced the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in Asian Games beginning in the 1998 Games in Bangkok, Thailand. Below is the list of winners:

Year Athlete Sport Ref
1998 Japan Koji Ito Athletics [45]
2002 Japan Kosuke Kitajima Swimming [45]
2006 South Korea Park Tae-hwan Swimming [46]
2010 China Lin Dan Badminton [47]
2014 Japan Kosuke Hagino Swimming [48]

Centennial Festival

On 8 November 2012, the OCA decided at its 31st General Assembly in Macau to create a special multi-sport event called Asian Games Centennial Festival in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Oriental Games (later became Far Eastern Championship Games).[49] OCA awarded the Philippines the hosting rights as it was the same host 100 years ago. The event was originally scheduled to be held in Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan on 27 to 29 November 2013 but due to the events surrounding Typhoon Haiyan, it was moved to January 2014.[50]


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