It was announced by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) on Monday that athletes from Oceania will be allowed to participate in the 2022 Asian Games. The announcement marks the first time athletes from Oceania will be allowed to participate at the OCA’s flagship event.
Oceania’s participation will be limited to a maximum of 300 athletes, and a group of five sports, namely triathlon, athletics, wushu, roller skating and weightlifting.
The offer is also not open to all members of the Pacific Games Council (PGC). Only members with national Olympic committees (NOC) recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will be eligible to take part.
Athletes from Oceania who find themselves on the podium will also not receive official medals at the Games. Instead, they will be awarded honorary medals in recognition of their performance.
Husain Al Musallam, Director General of the OCA, stated, “Oceania will be taking part for the first time at the Asian Games. They will receive honorary medals and it will not be counted in the final medals tally.”
It was also revealed that six of the seventeen eligible Oceania NOCs had already started the sports entry process for the 2022 Asian Games.
While this will be the first opportunity for athletes from Oceania compete at the full-fledged Asian Games, they have been present at other OCA sanctioned multi-sports games recently.
Athletes representing Oceania were first invited to the 2017 Asian Winter Games held in Sapporo, Japan. Australia and New Zealand were the only Oceanian NOCs to take the OCA up on that offer. Their participation was more along the lines of an “international friendly,” as their athletes were barred from winning medals, even if they placed on the podium.
However, when Oceanian NOCs were once again given the opportunity to compete against their Asian counterparts at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, there were medals on the line. In total, 18 members of the PGC sent delegations to Ashgabat, with athletes from Australia, Fiji, Marshall Islands and Samoa picking up medals at the Games.
Oceania participation at those two OCA events was largely seen as successful, and is perhaps one of the reasons the door to Oceania participation at future OCA events remains open.
Besides the invitation to compete at the 2022 Asian Games, it has already been reported athletes from Oceania will be eligible to compete at the 2023 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games due to be held in Thailand.
Delegates at the 40th OCA General Assembly in Dubai, also heard reports from the 16 OCA standing committees, ANOC, the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity Commission, and the organizing committees of seven international multi-sport games under the OCA flag. A report from the newly established Asian Olympic Academy was also presented to the delegates present.
A progress update was also given on preparations for the 2022 Asian Games. It was announced that construction on 42 of the 55 venues to be used during the Games had been completed.
The OCA also commented on the official sports program, announcing that 40 sports and 482 events will feature at the Games. Breaking and esports will make their debut as official medal sports at the Games.
The inclusion of esports is of particular note as the Asian Games will be the first continental multi-sports games to include the sport. Esports was first trialed as a demonstration sport at the 2018 Asian Games, before being promoted to an official medal sport for the 2022 Asian Games.
The OCA was also keen to point out that the next four editions of Asian Games had already been assigned to host cities. Hangzhou, China will host the 2022 Asian Games. China’s time in the spotlight will then be followed by Aichi-Nagoya, Japan in 2026, Doha, Qatar in 2030, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2034.
Speaking on the line up Asian Games, Al Musallam said, “This shows the stability and the unity within the Olympic sports movement in Asia. The next available date for hosting our Asian Games is 2038 so this puts the OCA and all our NOCs in a very strong position to plan for the short-term, mid-term and long-term future.”
With the future of the Asian Games being touted, the fate of the OCA’s other multi-sports games was also determined.
The 2021 Asian Youth Games have been pushed back to December 20-28, 2022. China will also play host to those Games, with the city of Shantou stepping into the regional spotlight.
The 2020 Asian Beach Games have been confirmed as postponed to 2023, with the dates yet to be finalized. The 2021 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games have also been postponed to 2023, and will be held November 17-26 in Bangkok and Chonburi province, Thailand.
2025 will then see the 4th Asian Youth Games held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as well as the 7th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Riyadh was appointed as host of the Games after submitting a request to host the Games during the General Assembly. According to the OCA, the proposal was passed unanimously.
Lastly, Phnom Penh, Cambodia was appointed host the 2029 Asian Youth Games after signing a host city contract with the OCA. This will be the first time Cambodia hosts an OCA sanctioned multi-sports games. Cambodia is also scheduled to host the Southeast Asian Games in 2023.
Raja Randhir Singh, Acting President of the OCA, described the proceedings of the 40th OCA General Assembly as “a great success.”
The 41st OCA General Assembly will be held when the members of the OCA gather for the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. The 2022 Asian Games are scheduled to run from September 10-25, 2022.