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Asian Games

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Asian Games
MottoEver Onward
First event1951 Asian Games in New Delhi, India
Occur everyFour years
Last event2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China
Next event2026 Asian Games in Nagoya, Japan
PurposeMulti-sport event for nations in Asia

The Asian Games, also known as Asiad,[1] is a continental multi-sport event held every fourth year among athletes from all over Asia. The Games were regulated by the Asian Games Federation (AGF) from the first Games in New Delhi, India in 1951, 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]

Nine nations have hosted the Asian Games. Forty-six nations have participated in the Games, including Israel, which was excluded from the Games after its last participation in 1974. The last edition of the Games was held in Hangzhou, China, from 23 September to 8 October 2023.

Since 2010, it has been common for the host of the Asian Games to host the Asian Para Games held shortly after the end of the Games. This event is exclusive to athletes with disabilities, as with the continental version of the Paralympic Games. But unlike what happens in the Paralympic Games where the host city's contract mentions the holding of both events, the case of Asia does not mention the mandatory holding of both. Instead, the exclusion of the Asian Para Games from the Asian Games host city's contract means that both events run independently from one other, and may lead to occasions in the future when the two events are held in different cities and countries.



The Far Eastern Championship Games existed previous to the Asian Games, the former mooted in 1912 for a location set between Japan, the Philippines, and China. The inaugural Far Eastern Games were held in Manila in 1913 with 6 participating nations. There were ten Far Eastern Games held by 1934. The second Sino-Japanese War in 1934, and Japan's insistence on including the Manchu Empire as a competitor nation in the Games, caused China to announce its withdrawal from participation. The Far Eastern Games scheduled for 1938 were cancelled. The organization was eventually discontinued.[5]


After World War II, several areas in Asia became sovereign states. Many of these countries sought to exhibit Asian prowess without violence. At the London 1948 Summer Olympics, a conversation started between China and the Philippines to restore the idea of the Far Eastern Games. Guru Dutt Sondhi, the Indian International Olympic Committee representative, believed that the restoration of the Far Eastern Games would sufficiently display the spirit of unity and level of achievement taking place in Asian sports. He proposed the idea of a new competition – which came to be the Asian Games. The Asian Athletic Federation would eventually be formed. A preparatory committee was set up to draft the charter for this new body. On 13 February 1949, the Asian Athletic Federation was formally inaugurated in New Delhi, announced as the inaugural host city to be held in 1950.[6][7]

Years of crises[edit]

The first Asian Games opening ceremony

In 1962, the Games were hit by several crises. The host country Indonesia refused to permit Israel and Taiwan to participate due to political recognition issues. The IOC terminated its sponsorship of the Games and terminated Indonesia's membership in the IOC.[8] The Asian Football Confederation (AFC),[9] International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), and the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) also removed their recognition of the Games.[10][11]

South Korea renounced its plan to host the 1970 Asian Games on the grounds of a national security crisis; the main reason was due to a financial crisis. The previous host, Thailand, would host the Games in Bangkok using funds transferred from South Korea.[12] Japan was asked to host but declined the opportunity as they were already committed to Expo '70 in Osaka.[13] This edition marked the Games' inaugural television broadcasting, worldwide.[14] 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 the Arab world, while Taiwan was permitted to continue taking part (as "Chinese Taipei") although its status was abolished in a general meeting on 16 November 1973 by the Games Federation.[15]

Before the 1978 Games, Pakistan retracted its plan to host the 1975 Games due to a financial crisis and political issues.[16] Thailand offered to host and the Games were held in Bangkok. As in 1962, Taiwan and Israel refused participation by the Games Federation, amid political issues and security fears.[17] Several governing bodies protested the ban. The International Olympic Committee threatened to bar the participating athletes from the 1980 Summer Olympics.[18] Several nations withdrew before the Games opening.[19]

Reorganization and expansion[edit]

These events led the National Olympic Committees in Asia to revise the constitution of the Asian Games Federation. The Olympic Council of Asia was created in November 1981, excluding Israel and Taiwan.[20] India was scheduled to host in 1982 and the OCA decided to maintain the old AGF timetable. The OCA formally started to supervise the Games starting with the 1986 Asian Games scheduled for Seoul, South Korea.[21] In the 1990 Asian Games held in Beijing, Taiwan (Republic of China) was re-admitted, under pressure by the People's Republic of China to compete as Chinese Taipei.[22]

The 1994 Games held in Hiroshima included the inaugural participation of the former 5 republics of the Soviet Union who were part of Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It was also the first edition of the Games held in a host country outside its capital city.[23] However, Iraq was suspended from the Games due to the 1990 Persian Gulf War. North Korea boycotted the Games due to political issues with the host country. The Games were hampered during the opening ceremony due to a heart attack that killed Nareshkumar Adhikari, the chief of the Nepalese delegation.[24]

The 1998 Games marked the fourth time the Games were held in Bangkok, Thailand. This time the city participated in a bidding process. The opening ceremony was on 6 December; the previous three were on 9 December. King Bhumibol Adulyadej opened the Games; the closing ceremony was on 20 December (the same date as all the previous games hosted by Thailand).

1974 Asian Games medal


The Asian Games Movement uses symbols to represent the ideals embodied in the Asian Games charter. The Asian Games motto is "Ever Onward" which was designed and proposed by Guru Dutt Sondhi upon the creation of the Asian Games Federation in 1949. The Asian Games symbol is a bright sun in red with 16 rays and a white circle in the middle of its disc which represents the ever glimmering and warm spirit of the Asian people.


Since the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi, India, the Asian Games have had a mascot, usually an animal native to the area or occasionally human figures representing the cultural heritage.


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

According to membership in the OCA, transcontinental Kazakhstan is an Asian country and could participate in the Asian Games but this right could not apply to Egypt as the country had 6% of the territory on Sinai, participating in the African Games instead. Turkey and Russia/Soviet Union — whose major geographical parts are located in the Asian continent — participate in the European Games rather than the Asian Games. Similarly, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Cyprus, and Armenia are mostly located in Asia but participate in the European Games instead of the Asian Games.

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.[25] Israel requested to participate in the 1982 Games, but the request was rejected by the organizers due to the Munich massacre.[26] Israel is now a member of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) and competes at the European Games.

Taiwan, Palestine, Hong Kong, and Macau participate in the Asian Games according to membership in OCA. Due to its continuing ambiguous political status, Taiwan has participated in the Games under the flag of Chinese Taipei since 1990. Macau since 1990 has been allowed to compete as one of the NOCs in the 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 the 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).[27] Being members of ONOC, Australia and New Zealand have participated in the Pacific Games since 2015. This motion was mooted again in 2017 after Australia participated in the 2017 Asian Winter Games as they are in discussions to become a full Asian Games member shortly.[28] However, the Australian Olympic Committee announced that Australia would be allowed a small contingent of athletes for the 2022 Games, as long as the qualification for Summer Olympics events such as basketball and volleyball are through the Asia-Pacific region.[29]

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

List of Asian Games[edit]

Edition Year Host Games dates /
Opened by[a]
Countries Competitors Sports Events Top-ranked team Ref.
1 1951 India New Delhi 4–11 March 1951
President Rajendra Prasad
11 489 6 57  Japan (JPN) [30]
2 1954 Philippines Manila 1–9 May 1954
President Ramon Magsaysay
18 970 8 76 [31]
3 1958 Japan Tokyo 24 May – 1 June 1958
Emperor Hirohito
16 1,820 13 97 [32]
4 1962 Indonesia Jakarta 24 August – 4 September 1962
President Sukarno
12 1,460 13 88 [33]
5 1966 Thailand Bangkok 9–20 December 1966
King Bhumibol Adulyadej
16 1,945 14 143 [34]
6 1970 Thailand Bangkok 9–20 December 1970
King Bhumibol Adulyadej
18 2,400 13 135 [35]
7 1974 Iran Tehran 1–16 September 1974
Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
19 3,010 16 202 [36]
8 1978 Thailand Bangkok 9–20 December 1978
King Bhumibol Adulyadej
3,842 19 201 [37]
9 1982 India New Delhi 19 November – 4 December 1982
President Zail Singh
23 3,411 21 147  China (CHN) [38]
10 1986 South Korea Seoul 20 September – 2 October 1986
President Chun Doo-hwan
22 4,839 25 270 [39]
11 1990 China Beijing 22 September – 7 October 1990
President Yang Shangkun
31 6,122 27 310 [40]
12 1994 Japan Hiroshima 2–16 October 1994
Emperor Akihito
42 6,828 34 338 [41]
13 1998 Thailand Bangkok 6–20 December 1998
King Bhumibol Adulyadej
41 6,554 36 377 [42]
14 2002 South Korea Busan 29 September – 14 October 2002
President Kim Dae-jung
44 7,711 38 419 [43]
15 2006 Qatar Doha 1–15 December 2006
Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
45 9,520 39 424 [44]
16 2010 China Guangzhou 12–27 November 2010
Premier Wen Jiabao[b]
9,704 42 476 [45]
17 2014 South Korea Incheon 19 September – 4 October 2014
President Park Geun-hye
9,501 37 439 [46]
18 2018 Indonesia Jakarta and Palembang 18 August – 2 September 2018
President Joko Widodo
11,300 46 465 [47]
19 2022 China Hangzhou 23 September – 8 October 2023[c]
President Xi Jinping
11,935 40 481 [48]
20 2026 Japan Aichi Prefecture 19 September – 4 October 2026
Emperor Naruhito (expected)
Future event
21 2030 Qatar Doha Future event
22 2034 Saudi Arabia Riyadh

Participating nations[edit]

45 nations/regions whose NOCs are recognized by the OCA compete at the Asian Games.[49]


The historical average for the edition of events by the edition of the Asian Games is nearly 260 events with nearly 24 sports by edition. The last edition held in Hangzhou, China was the edition with the largest number of events when 481 finals in 40 sports were held. Until the 2018 edition, each host country was allowed to set up the program respecting their local demands, which led to a dizzying growth of the event. However, this flexibility rule ruled out the entry of some Olympic sports such as the modern pentathlon and triathlon of the programs of some editions between 1986 and 2006. This flexibility also increased the number of athletes participating in each edition. However, it forced the event to be massive, as there was no calculation of athlete quotas per NOC. To avoid gigantism, OCA established a new policy to be applied since the 2018 Asian Games which limited the number of sports to be played at the Games to 40. This new rule is by the Olympic program for the subsequent edition of the Summer Olympic Games and if there is any prior change, the entity will necessarily follow it. However, each region that makes up the body can nominate a regional sport according to its demands. Between one to two extra sports could also be included due to the local demands.[50][51]

Key:   = Discontinued

Sport Years
Aquatics All
Archery Since 1978
Athletics All
Badminton Since 1962
Baseball Since 1994
Basketball All
Board games 2006–2010, since 2022
Bodybuilding 2002–2006
Bowling 1978, 1986, 1994–2018
Boxing Since 1954
Canoeing Since 1986
Cricket 2010–2014, since 2022
Cue sports 1998–2010
Cycling 1951, since 1958
Dancesport 2010, since 2022
Dragon boat 2010, since 2018
Diving All
Equestrian 1982–1986, since 1994
Esports Since 2022
Fencing 1974–1978, since 1986
Field hockey Since 1958
Football All
Golf Since 1982
Gymnastics Since 1974
Handball Since 1982
Sport Years
Jet ski 2018 only
Judo Since 1986
Ju-jitsu Since 2018
Kabaddi Since 1990
Karate Since 1994
Kurash Since 2018
Martial arts 2018 only
Modern pentathlon 1994, 2002, since 2010
Paragliding 2018 only
Roller sports 2010, since 2018
Rowing Since 1982
Rugby union Since 1998
Sailing 1970, since 1978
Sepak takraw Since 1990
Shooting Since 1954
Sport climbing Since 2018
Squash Since 1998
Table tennis 1958–1966, since 1974
Taekwondo 1986, since 1994
Tennis 1958–1966, since 1974
Triathlon Since 2006
Volleyball Since 1958
Weightlifting 1951–1958, since 1966
Wrestling Since 1954
Wushu Since 1990


Sport Disciplines Years
Aquatics Artistic Swimming Since 1994
Diving All
Marathon swimming Since 2022
Swimming All
Water polo All
Baseball Baseball Since 1994
Softball Since 1990
Basketball Basketball All
3x3 basketball Since 2018
Board games Chess 2006–2010, since 2022
Contract bridge Since 2018
Go 2010, since 2022
Xiangqi 2010, since 2022
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
Gymnastics Artistic gymnastics Since 1974
Rhythmic gymnastics Since 1994
Trampoline Since 2006
Martial arts Pencak silat 2018 only
Sambo 2018 only
Roller sports Artistic roller skating 2010, since 2022
Inline freestyle skating Since 2022
Roller speed skating 2010, since 2018
Skateboarding Since 2018
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[edit]

Of the 46 National Olympic Committees participating throughout the history of the Games, 43 have won at least a single medal in the competition, leaving three National Olympic Committees without a medal: Bhutan, Maldives, and Timor-Leste yet to win a single medal. 38 National Olympic Committees 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 NOCs in history to emerge as the first places at the Medal Tables.[52]

In the 2022 Games, India became the fourth nation in history after Japan, China, and South Korea to cross the 100-medal mark in one edition.[53][54] China, together with Japan and South Korea became the first three countries to cross the overall 200-medal mark in one edition during the 1986 Asian Games.[55] At the 2022 Games, China became the first NOC to surpass the threshold of 100 gold medals, 200 gold medals, 300 overall medals and 400 overall medals in a single edition.[56][57][58]

1 China167411057913570
2 Japan1084110410543242
3 South Korea7877229162425
4 Iran192202217611
5 India183239357779
6 Kazakhstan165180292637
7 Thailand144189311644
8 North Korea121161188470
9 Chinese Taipei118164304586
10 Uzbekistan105138171414
Totals (10 entries)45734204460113378

Most Valuable Player award[edit]

The Most Valuable Player (MVP) award was introduced in the 1998 Games in Bangkok, Thailand. The awards had originally been awarded to one individual, until in 2023, when the 2022 Games in Hangzhou, have started separating women's and men's awards.[59]

Below is the list of winners:

Year Athlete NOC Sport Ref
1998 Koji Ito  Japan Athletics [60]
2002 Kosuke Kitajima  Japan Swimming [60]
2006 Park Tae-hwan  South Korea [61]
2010 Lin Dan  China Badminton [62]
2014 Kosuke Hagino  Japan Swimming [63]
2018 Rikako Ikee  Japan [64]
2022 Zhang Yufei
Qin Haiyang
 China [65]

Centennial Festival[edit]

On 8 November 2012, the OCA decided at its 31st General Assembly in Macau to create a special multi-sport event called the Asian Games Centennial Festival in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Oriental Games (later became Far Eastern Championship Games).[66] OCA awarded the Philippines the hosting rights as it was also the host 100 years previous. The event was originally scheduled to be held in Boracay, Malay, Aklan from 27 to 29 November 2013 but due to the events surrounding Typhoon Haiyan, it was moved to January 2014.[67]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Names & offices in italics reflect an opener who was not head of state when opening the Games. If the office is partially italicized, the non-italicized portion is the office & name of the head of state being represented.
  2. ^ Representing Hu Jintao, President of the People's Republic of China.
  3. ^ Originally scheduled for 10–25 September 2022, the Games were postponed by one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, since the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.


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External links[edit]