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OCA Press Release: OCA President rules out Oceania joining Asian Games


18 Sep 2017
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, September 18, 2017: The President of the Olympic Council of Asia, HE Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, is confident that the cooperation with the Oceania confederation will continue beyond the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Speaking at a press conference at the Main Media Centre on Monday, Sheikh Ahmad said the OCA was keen to continue this relationship with Oceania – but that it was unlikely to happen at the showpiece event, the Asian Games.

“I hope at the next Indoor Games we will have the same experience and Oceania will continue with us in the Indoor Games,” he said. “If not, we will go the Beach Games. “With the Asian Games we are already at 15,000 athletes and officials and we cannot add to that number.

“In the Beach Games and Indoor Games we can continue to have our coordination and cooperation, but for the Asian Games the number is very high and we cannot have an Olympic Village with more than 15,000 people. “

Sheikh Ahmad pointed out that the Asian Games sports were open to all 45 National Olympic Committees, with no qualifying process, but if this situation changed then some team sports from Oceania, for example in volleyball, could qualify for the Asian Games through a joint Asia-Oceania tournament. This 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, running from September 17-27, involves 65 teams – 45 from Asia, 19 from Oceania plus an African Refugee Team.

It is the first time Asia and Oceania have competed together at an OCA multi-sport games, although athletes from Australia and New Zealand took part in the OCA’s 8th Asian Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan, in February 2017 as guest athletes and were not eligible to win medals.

Sheikh Ahmad described Sunday evening’s opening ceremony as “extraordinary” as it told the history of Turkmenistan and was packed with high-tech performances, vast human resources and spectacular mid-air displays of the sports programme. “It was very beautiful for the audience,” said Sheikh Ahmad. “You could feel the pride and the happiness of the spectators.”

When asked about the 5 billion USD investment by the Turkmenistan government in the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Games, Sheikh Ahmad stressed that this figure included a new airport, roads, clinics, shopping malls and apartment blocks as well as the Ashgabat Olympic Complex, where 13 of the 15 Games venues are located.

The awarding of the 5th AIMAG to Ashgabat in 2010 had played a major role in developing the city, said Sheikh, and would provide a strong legacy for sport, athletes and citizens. “This can be seen in previous host cities of our games, such as Doha in 2006, Hiroshima in 1994 and Beijing in 1990….the OCA was a partner and a witness to that change.”

There will be 21 medal sports in Ashgabat, plus electronic-sports as a demonstration event. Sheikh Ahmad said it was far too early to talk about e-sports joining the Olympic Games in 2024, and that the main aim was to raise the level so that the International Federation could be accepted by the International Olympic Committee.
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