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From the left Mr Ikushima, Mr Wei and Mr Farman at the first meeting of team leaders on Friday.
OCA welcomes record number of teams, athletes to Sapporo 2017

17 Feb 2017
Sapporo, Japan, February 17, 2017: The Olympic Council of Asia welcomed a record number of National Olympic Committees and athletes to the Asian Winter Games at the first meeting of team leaders on Friday morning. A total of 32 NOCs will take part in the eighth Asian Winter Games, comprised of 30 from Asia plus guest teams from Oceania nations Australia and New Zealand, with around 1,200 athletes.

Both these entries are higher than the previous best, for the seventh Asian Winter Games in Kazakhstan in 2011 when 26 NOCs entered 843 athletes. The figures were delivered to the delegates at the first Chefs de Mission meeting at Minami Ward Gymnasium on Friday morning.

The OCA’s Honorary Life Vice President, Mr Wei Jizhong, welcomed the delegates to the Sapporo Asian Winter Games on behalf of the OCA President, HE Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah. “We have the biggest Asian Winter Games in history,” Mr Wei announced.

“According to the OCA decision we have the pleasure to invite two NOCs from Oceania – Australia and New Zealand - as guests. Welcome Australia and New Zealand!” His words were greeted with a round of applause by the delegates of the Asian countries and regions. Mr Wei stressed the importance of the NOCs in the smooth running of the Asian Winter Games.

“The host is the OCA, the organiser is the Sapporo Asian Winter Games Organising Committee, the participants are the NOCs. The fourth pillar is the media,” he said. “These four compose the Games, so from the OCA side we appeal to all participants to work together to make the Games successful.”

On behalf of the organising committee, Mr Noriaki Ikushima announced that five Asian NOCs would be competing in the Asian Winter Games for the first time: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan and Vietnam. “The citizens of Sapporo are now ready to welcome you to this memorable and historic event, and we look forward to watching your wonderful performances,” said Mr Ikushima.

The Director of the OCA’s Asian Games Department, Mr Haider Farman, reminded NOCs about the commercial guidelines, sponsors and branding on the uniforms of the athletes. The eighth AWG will run from February 19-26, with five sports, 11 disciplines and 64 events. There will be 12 competition venues – 11 in Sapporo and one in Obihiro, 200km away, for speed skating.

Australia and New Zealand will be competing as guest athletes in individual events only, and will not be eligible to win medals. The opening ceremony at Sapporo Dome on Sunday afternoon has sold out, as have several sessions for men’s ice hockey and curling.

The 32 competing NOCs are: China, DPR Korea, Hong Kong-China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Macau-China, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Independent Olympic Athletes (representing the suspended Kuwait Olympic Committee), Australia, New Zealand.
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