Get ready, sports enthusiasts! This Saturday, the vibrant city of Hangzhou, China, will welcome the grandest Asian Games yet. With around 12,000 competitors on the roster – yes, that’s even more than the Olympics – it’s set to be a monumental event.
These games promise a thrilling mix of old and new. Traditional sports like athletics, swimming, and football share the spotlight with contemporary ones like eSports. Notably, nine of these sports – including popular ones like tennis, boxing, and the dynamic break dancing – will serve as stepping stones for athletes aiming for the Paris Olympics next year.
Originally slated for last September, the event faced delays due to China’s rigorous Covid guidelines. But now, with the green light, this 19th edition is prepped to be iconic. Athletes from a whopping 45 countries spanning Asia and the Middle East are gearing up to compete.
China, fresh off hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, is no stranger to showcasing its organizational skills and technological innovations. As Chen Weiqiang, the Games’ spokesperson, confidently shared, “Despite hurdles, we’re poised for a triumphant event.”
Sporting events will span across 54 locales, with 14 being brand-new creations. The crown jewel? The “Big Lotus” Olympic stadium, with its jaw-dropping 80,000 capacity. Hangzhou’s rich history of temples and gardens and its status as China’s tech hub – remember, it’s where Jack Ma’s Alibaba originated – will surely be a backdrop to the event. Onlookers can expect a high-tech spectacle, with innovations like driverless buses and robot dogs taking center stage.
China’s been the titan of the Asian Games since 1982, dominating the medal counts. Eyes will be on swimming sensation Qin Haiyang, who’s been making waves globally. On the athletics front, all eyes will be on India’s javelin maestro, Neeraj Chopra.
In a futuristic twist, eSports is making its full-fledged debut, having been a demonstration sport earlier. One name to watch? “Faker” aka Lee Sang-hyeok from South Korea, a legend in the League of Legends world. Interestingly, a gold here offers South Korean players a military service pass – a tidbit that’s sparked buzz.
But it’s not all high-tech and mainstream. The Asian Games has its charm with unconventional sports like “Chinese chess” and the wrestling art of kurash.
Though the grand opening is Saturday, sports action kicked off earlier this week. In a significant return, North Korea marked its comeback to major global sports with a football victory over Taiwan.
So, circle your calendars, sports buffs! Hangzhou’s Asian Games promises a medley of action, tradition, and innovation.