Guangzhou, Nov 11 (IANS) Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) director general Husain Al-Musallam said that Guangzhou has made a ‘great contribution’ to the history and the legacy of the Asian Games.
Speaking at a joint press conference held by the Guangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (GAGOC) and the OCA, Husain said there was no major issue to confront with the opening of the 16th Asian Games at a grand ceremony Friday evening.
‘I think Guangzhou has made a great contribution to the Asian Games,’ said Husain.
‘The Asian Games started officially in 1951 in New Delhi with seven sports and now there are 42 sports in Guangzhou. When the Far Eastern Games were first held in Manila in 1913, there were only six countries, and now there are 45,’ Husain noted.
‘This shows the great increase in the number of athletes and countries, with the Athletes’ Village in Asian Games Town ready to accept 14,500 athletes and team officials. Guangzhou has added very great value to the Asian Games and the Olympic Movement.’
The OCA’s director general added that the athletes would benefit greatly from the Asian Games, as it would improve their performance in the build-up to the London Olympics in 2012.
The Asian Games will feature 42 sports, including 28 from the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and many of the other 14 sports had made a significant contribution to the sporting culture of Asia, he said.
‘Looking at these 14 sports, millions and millions are following and practising these sports in Asia. We are trying to give an opportunity to Asian athletes to compete in their sport and represent their country in sports such as cricket, squash, dance sport and karate. They are very popular in Asia – and Asia is the largest continent in the world,’ Husain said.
‘The Asian Games gives a platform to the Asian youth and Asian athletes to improve and take this sport to the world.’
Husain pointed out that not a single ticket remained for the women’s cricket tournament.