Event Profile: 2010 Asian Games

Posted by Pete DeMola on 4. Nov 2010

By Evan O'Callaghan

BEIJING, NOV 4 -- The 2010 Asian Games begin in Guangzhou next Friday, representing the third major event hosted by China in a little over two years, following hot on the heels of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the recently-wrapped, record setting Shanghai Expo.

While the Asian Games -- the second largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games -- were first held in New Delhi in 1951, they can trace their history back to the Far Eastern Games of 1913.

The Guangzhou Games will be the 16th edition of the quadrennial event, with only one other Games being held in China (Beijing, 1990).

How will this installment of the Asian Games measure up against the hallowed 2008 Olympic Games?

Quite well, it seems, at face value.

For starters, more sports will be represented at Guangzhou than in Beijing (Beijing had only 38 sports against 42 in Guangzhou).

Among the extra sports to be represented are Dragon Boat Racing and Roller Sports -- two activities that most likely will not be appearing in the Olympic Games in the near future.

These extra sports, in addition to martial arts and the mashup ball game sepaktakraw, give the Games their Asian flavour.

Dragon boating is steeped in 2,000 years of Chinese history, while I never saw as many people donning roller blades anywhere around Europe as I did when I reached China.

Guangzhou isn’t too far off in terms of athletes, either.

Just under 11,000 participated in the Beijing Olympics, while Guangzhou comes in not far behind with just under 8,000 (and only about 1,400 behind the Barcelona Olympics in 1992).

In terms of venues, the Guangzhou venues look every bit as impressive as those built for 2008 do.

Particularly impressive-looking are the “Olympic” Tennis Centre and the new bicycle helmet-shaped Velodrome.

Eight venues were built exclusively for the Asian Games, while another nine were redevelopments of existing infrastructure.

Tickets in Guangzhou, however, do not seem to represent the same sort of value for money that was on offer in Beijing.

While the cheapest tickets start at 10 RMB, the average price is 200 RMB (about 32 USD). In comparison, the average price for the Beijing Olympics was only 20 USD.

So, what can China expect from these games?

In terms of medals, they should be looking to top the table.

Their haul of 51 gold medals from the Beijing Olympics should really be surpassed with the 473 gold medals on offer. If form from the recent Youth Olympics in Singapore is any guide, China will sweep the board, having taken 30 of the 202 available gold medals.

And although Yao Ming has opted to stay in the States with the NBA, Guangzhou can look forward to welcoming a host of international stars and Olympic champions as they battle it out to become number one in Asia.

The 2010 Asian Games run from Nov 12-27 in Guangzhou.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Dennis Kruyt through Creative Commons.

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