OCA Press Release: OCA paves the way for Oceania athletes to enter Asian Winter Games 2017

Danang, Vietnam, September 25, 2016: The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) General Assembly has supported a proposal to include athletes from the Oceania region in the OCA’s 8th Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, in February 2017.

The proposal has come from the President of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, who is seeking a high level of competition for winter sports athletes in Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the region.

The OCA has asked the organising committee in Japan to accept entries in individual sports only, and athletes from Oceania would not be eligible to win medals.

The OCA President, HE Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, informed delegates of the proposal at the 35th OCA General Assembly at the Royal Lotus Hotel and Convention Centre in Danang, Vietnam, on Sunday.

"The OCA Executive Board has approved this proposal and we are waiting for the approval of Sapporo city," said Sheikh Ahmad.

"The athletes from Oceania would be competing as guests, under their flag, and their results would not be counted for medals, only for technical purposes," he said.

The President of the Japanese Olympic Committee, IOC member Tsunekazu Takeda, is in contact with the Sapporo Asian Winter Games Organising Committee (SAWGOC) and will report back to the OCA as soon as possible.

The Secretary General of SAWGOC, Mr Noriaki Ikushima, made a progress report to the General Assembly and said: "We are glad to hear that countries from Oceania want to join in our games next year. We will have close contact with them for more details."

In other news from the General Assembly:

*The 18th Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta-Palembang, Indonesia, will feature four of the five new sports accepted by the IOC in August for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games: Baseball/softball, karate, skateboard and sport climbing. Only surfing will miss out due to a lack of a suitable venue in the co-host cities.

The 32 Olympic sports will be joined by eight non-Olympic sports, including mechanical sports (paragliding and jetski) and bridge.

*The 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games will be held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, from ‪September 17-27, 2017‬, with 21 sports and 62 National Olympic Committees from Asia and Oceania. The Chefs de Mission Seminar for team leaders will take place from ‪March 17-19, 2017‬.

*The IOC President, Thomas Bach, and OCA President presented the OCA Merit Award to three individuals for outstanding service to sport in Asia: Kwon Kyungsang, former Secretary General of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games Organising Committee, Afghanistan National Olympic Committee President Mohammad Zahir Aghbar and Indian Olympic Association President N. Ramachandran.

*The General Assembly approved to change the OCA constitution to allow each National Olympic Committee to enter a maximum of two athletes in each sport in the Asian Games to minimize the number of participants, as opposed to following the Olympic charter of three entries from each NOC.

*The next OCA General Assembly will be held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, in September 2017.

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