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Asia is new buzz word in sporting circle

india Updated: Dec 18, 2007 18:40 IST
Highlight Story

Asia's stature as a sporting hub grew enormously in 2007, with the focus set to be ramped up even further next year when the Beijing Olympics are held.

While the exploits of Asians on the world stage was muted, the region continued its emergence as a major host of sporting events.

Promoters and marketers are acutely aware of the opportunities on the huge continent where economies are growing rapidly and its citizens are becoming increasingly wealthy.

Reflecting this, more and more top-shelf events are being moved to the region.

One of the biggest announcements of 2006 was that Singapore would host a Formula One Grand Prix from next year, and that it will not only be around the city-state's streets but take place at night -- the first ever under the stars.

It was also revealed that South Korea had won a seven-year contract to hold Grand Prix from 2010 and that India will also host races from the same year.

If Australia, Malaysia, China, and Japan remain on the calendar, it means Asia will be home to seven Grand Prix, or more than one third of all races in a highly lucrative sport with a massive global audience.

The movers and shakers of equally money-rich golf also fixed their radar on Asia with no fewer than nine European co-sanctioned events in 2007 as the Asian Tour enjoyed another season of stellar growth.

Some of the biggest names in the game made the trip with players like world number two Phil Mickelson and a slew of others vowing to return as tournaments such as the Singapore Open and HSBC Champions get bigger and bigger.

Tennis too has its eyes firmly fixed on Asia with the WTA and ATP announcing that the China Open would become one of their top four "Super Tournaments" from 2009.

The WTA held 15 tournaments in the Asia-Pacific this year and the WTA 10, with the highlight again being the Australian Open, where Roger Federer and Serena Williams triumphed.

While English Premier League football continues to top the popularity stakes across the region, a successful and highly entertaining Asian Cup stole some its thunder.

Spread over four countries - Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam - the quality of the football took many by surprise, reflecting the strides taken by national and club sides.

Iraq won, overcoming Saudi Arabia in the final, for a feelgood end to a feelgood tournament that organisers said was the most successful so far.

While that was going on, English Premier League teams queued up to play off-season games here, led by Manchester United and Liverpool, attracted by the almost unlimited commercial opportunities offered by such a vast place.

Another significant development saw former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra purchase high-flying Manchester City, taking three Thai players to the club, while Hong Kong tycoon Carsen Yeung is in talks to take over Birmingham.

The women's World Cup was held in China, with decent-sized crowds watching some eye-opening football in a tournament won by Germany who beat Brazil in the final.

The World Swimming Championships were hosted by Melbourne, and the Badminton World Championships by Kuala Lumpur.

The World Athletics Championships came to Osaka, with Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang a standout performer.

Other than his exploits, notable performances by Asians included Korean golfer K.J Choi cracking the top 10 on the world rankings while compatriot Se Ri Pak was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

China's Lin Dan and Zhu Lin clinched the coveted men's and women's world badminton crowns, while Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan became Test cricket's most successful bowler.

Japan's baseball standout Daisuke Matsuzaka had a triumphant rookie year as a Boston Red Sox pitcher and Chinese power forward Yi Jianlian impressed after joining Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA.

Tennis too has its eyes firmly fixed on Asia with the WTA and ATP announcing that the China Open would become one of their top four "Super Tournaments" from 2009.

While English Premier League football continues to top the popularity stakes across the region, a successful and highly entertaining Asian Cup stole some its thunder.

Spread over four countries - Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam - the quality of the football took many by surprise, reflecting the strides taken by national and club sides.

Iraq won, overcoming Saudi Arabia in the final, for a feel-good end to a feel-good tournament that organisers said was the most successful so far.

While that was going on, English Premier League teams queued up to play off-season games here, led by Manchester United and Liverpool, attracted by the almost unlimited commercial opportunities offered by such a vast place.

Another significant development saw former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra purchase high-flying Manchester City, taking three Thai players to the club, while Hong Kong tycoon Carsen Yeung is in talks to take over Birmingham.

The women's World Cup was held in China, with decent-sized crowds watching some eye-opening football in a tournament won by Germany who beat Brazil in the final.

The World Swimming Championships were hosted by Melbourne, and the Badminton World Championships by Kuala Lumpur.

The World Athletics Championships came to Osaka, with Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang a standout performer.

Other than his exploits, notable performances by Asians included Korean golfer K J Choi cracking the top 10 on the world rankings while compatriot Se Ri Pak was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

China's Lin Dan and Zhu Lin clinched the coveted men's and women's world badminton crowns, while Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan became Test cricket's most successful bowler.

Japan's baseball standout Daisuke Matsuzaka had a triumphant rookie year as a Boston Red Sox pitcher and Chinese power forward Yi Jianlian impressed after joining Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA.

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