OCA chief gives thumbs up to Guangzhou
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OCA chief gives thumbs up to Guangzhou

The organizers of 16th Asian Games have been given a thumbs up from the chief of Olympic Council of Asia.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2010 19:12 IST

The organizers of 16th Asian Games have been given a thumbs up from the chief of Olympic Council of Asia.

OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said he 'is happy and honored' to be in the City of Flowers and predicted Ghangzhou would be one of the best Asian Games.

"We have been working hard, shoulder to shoulder, with our friends and colleagues in the organizing committee ... just to prepare a good environment to start our Asian Games," Al-Sabah said after an OCA executive board meeting Friday, hours before the opening ceremony.

Al-Sabah commended China's central government for assisting Guangzhou in building impressive venues for the 42 sports being contested.

"I am very satisfied with all the hard work that has been done by this city," he said.

With more than 10,000 athletes from 45 countries competing in 42 sports, Guangzhou is already the biggest Asian Games and will likely retain that status for some time.

The OCA has already decided to cap the number of sports at future editions at 35, 28 from the Olympic program and seven more that reflect the region's culture. And the OCA's 29th general assembly will decide on Saturday which sports will be dropped from the program for the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea.

Cricket, which is making its Asian Games debut in Guangzhou, was not on the list of seven preferred non-Olympic sports submitted by Korean organizers. Cue sports, dance sport, dragon boat racing, roller sports and chess were among the others.

India has already expressed in interest in hosting the subsequent Asian Games, which will be delayed by one year to 2019, so the debate could get interesting regarding cricket.

Randhir Singh, a leading Indian and OCA official, said on the sidelines of the Asian Games that he thought cricket should be kept on the program. Applications are due by February next year.

And India could get some competition from a previously unlikely contender for 2019. Turkmenistan on Friday presented plans to build a $5 billion Olympic town in the city of Ashgabat.

"It will be the biggest sports complex, consisting of 30 sports venues, fully equipped according to international standards," Yalkapberdi Atalyyev, head of the state committee for tourism and sport, told the OCA meeting.

He said the first of three stages of the complex could be completed in three years, including two sports arenas of 15,000 and 10,000 capacity, an aquatics complex and an indoor velodrome with a 5,000-seating capacity all for an estimated cost of $2 billion.

The other two stages, he said, would be finished by 2016.

"My wish is that we can see this very soon, and we hope we can have one of our events in Turkmenistan very soon," Al-Sabah said.

While Turkmenistan, India and China are or have all invested heavily in sports infrastructure, the OCA also said it needed to focus on the other end of the spectrum and make funds available for programs in Pakistan and North Korea.

First Published: Nov 12, 2010 19:08 IST