Bangkok, Thailand, March 18, 2023: Olympic Council of Asia Director General Husain Al Musallam has praised the strength of the Asian Olympic Movement for being able to withstand the pressures of wars and conflicts in the region, and keeping athletes at the forefront.
In his opening address at the OCA/OS Athletes Forum on Saturday, Mr. Al Musallam noted that the Olympic Movement had “stayed together” and that its flagship event, the Asian Games, had grown in stature despite all the troubles across the continent.
“Over the last few decades, and even today, we have had wars in Asia. North Korea against South Korea, India versus Pakistan, conflicts in Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria… every part of Asia. But, despite all these problems, the Asian Olympic Movement has stayed together,” Mr. Al Musallam told participants from 43 National Olympic Committees.
“Our solidarity is a reason why the Asian Games has been successful since 1913,” he added, referring to the Far Eastern Championship Games in Manila.
“It is because we all believe in the basic principle of the Olympic Charter which is the right of every individual to practice sport without any discrimination.
“This belief is at the core of the Asian Olympic Movement - and this is why, at the Busan 2002 Asian Games, North Korea and South Korea marched together at the Opening Ceremony, and this is why, at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, North Korea and South Korea fielded a joint team and won a gold medal.”
The ability to practice sport without discrimination will be the core reason behind Russian and Belarusian athletes taking part at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China in September, according to the OCA Director General.
“If the IOC and International Federations agree, they will be at the Hangzhou Asian Games, with the condition of no flag, no medal and without affecting the quotas for Asian athletes at the Paris Olympic Games 2024 - and no political participation. They will just come for sport as individual athletes.”
The growth of sport in Asia was highlighted by the fact that 95 sports are involved in the OCA’s five multi-sport games: Asian Games, Asian Winter Games, Asian Beach Games, Asian Youth Games and Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
“We engage with 95 International Federations and Asian Federations. At the Hangzhou Asian Games in September there will be 61 sports with around 15,600 athletes taking part. Then, in Bangkok in November at the 6th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, there will be 36 sports and around 10,000 athletes.
“We want to hear the voices of everyone at this Athletes Forum and to know how we can serve you better. It is important for all of us to grow together,” Mr. Al Musallam added.