The Asian Games are the oldest and most prestigious event on the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) calendar, dating back to the inaugural edition in 1951.
Like the Olympic Games, they are held every four years.
The 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia will be the 18th edition.
The Games follow the sports programme of the Olympics, with athletics and swimming as core sports, as well as featuring disciplines which reflect the diverse sporting culture of the continent such as South East Asia’s sepak takraw, South Asia’s kabaddi and East Asia’s wushu.
New Delhi 1951
They were not invited to the founding meeting of the Asian Games Federation in 1949 but the country was allowed to compete in the inaugural Asian Games.
South Korea did not participate, however, due to the Korean War, which had started the previous year and would last until 1953.
The Games were officially opened by Indian President Rajendra Prasad at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium. A total of 489 athletes from 11 National Olympic Committees competed in 12 sports.
Japan topped the medal table with 24 gold, 21 silver and 15 bronze medals. A total of 169 medals were awarded.
A total of 970 athletes from 19 National Olympic Committees competed in eight sports. Once again, Japan topped the medal table with 38 gold, 36 silver and 24 bronze. A total of 218 medals were awarded.
The Relay commenced at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, the main venue for the previous Games in Manila.
In Japan, the Torch was carried from the United States-occupied Okinawa Island to Kagoshima Prefecture on the island of Kyushu for a journey through the Japanese archipelago.
A total number of 1,820 athletes from 16 countries competed in 13 sports in May and June.
The sacred flame was ignited at the Opening Ceremony by triple jumper Mikio Oda, who three decades earlier had become Japan’s first Olympic champion when won the gold medal at Amsterdam in 1928.
The Games were officially opened at the National Stadium by Japan Emperor Hirohito. Japan, yet again, topped the medal table with 67 gold, 41 silver and 30 bronze medals. A total of 302 medals were awarded.
Politics were playing a big part behind the scenes as, succumbing to pressure from Arab countries and China, the Indonesian Government refused to issue visas to the delegations from Israel and Taiwan.
Nevertheless, a total number of 1,460 athletes from 12 countries competed with badminton making its debut as one of 13 sports.
The Games were officially opened by Indonesian President Sukarno at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. Japan topped the medal table with 73 gold, 65 silver and 23 bronze. A total of 381 medals were awarded.
Women’s volleyball made its debut as one of 14 sports on the programme.
The Games were given royal approval as they were officially opened by the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej at the National Stadium.
Japan topped the medal table with 78 gold, 53 silver and 33 bronze. A total of 454 medals were awarded.
A total of 2,400 athletes from 16 countries competed with sailing making its debut as one of 13 sports on the programme.
Once again the Games were officially opened by the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej at the National Stadium.
The cauldron lighter was Preeda Chullamondhol, a Thai cyclist who had competed at the Tokyo 1964 Olympics. Japan topped the medal table with 74 gold, 47 silver and 23 bronze. A total of 427 medals were awarded.
The Azadi Sport Complex was purposely built for the Games, which saw Iran’s capital play host to a record 3,010 athletes from 19 different countries.
Fencing, gymnastics and women’s basketball were added to existing disciplines with 16 sports now on the programme.
In addition to the use of state-of-the-art technology, from synthetic track to photo-finish cameras, the Games were known for strict security measures due to reported threats from Palestine and a Japanese militant sect.
Politics played a major role as the action got underway with the Arab nations, China, North Korea and Pakistan refusing to face Israel in basketball, fencing, football and tennis.
The Asian Games Federation conference, which was held 10 months before the Games, had decided to expel Taiwan and accept China. The Games were officially opened by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, at the Aryamehr Stadium.
Iranian freestyle wrestler Mansour Barzegar delivered the athletes’ oath, while Golverdi Peymani lit the Cauldron.
Japan topped the medal table with 75 gold, 49 silver and 51 bronze. A total of 601 medals were awarded.
Original hosts Singapore could not fulfil their obligations due to financial reasons. Pakistan’s capital Islamabad was then chosen to stage the event but also pulled out due to conflicts with Bangladesh and India.
It led to Bangkok stepping in and hosting the Games again. On the political front, Israel was expelled from the Asian Games.
A total number of 3,842 athletes from 19 countries competed in 19 sports. Making their debuts were archery and bowling.
The Games were officially opened by the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej at the National Stadium.
Japan topped the medal table with 70 gold, 58 silver and 49 bronze. A total of 625 medals were awarded.
New Delhi 1982
New Delhi thus joined Bangkok as the only cities to host multiple editions of the Asian Games. The 1982 edition was the first Asian Games to be backed by the Olympic Council of Asia.
The Asian Games Federation, under whose jurisdiction the first eight Asian Games had been held, had been dissolved.
By the 1980s, the Games were growing considerably in size. A total number of 3,411 athletes from 23 countries competed in 21 sports.
Debut sports were equestrian, golf, handball, women’s hockey and rowing, while bowling and fencing were excluded.
The venues and facilities were highly impressive as they were also going to be used for the 1988 Olympic and Paralympic Games in South Korea’s capital.
Considered a test event for the Olympics, a total of 4,839 athletes from 22 countries competed in 25 sports. Making their first appearances were women’s cycling, judo, women’s shooting and taekwondo.
Standards were high with as many as 83 Asian records and three world records broken, while two world records were equalled.
Japanese hammer thrower Shigenobu Murofushi won Asian Games gold for the fifth successive time, a sequence stretching back to Bangkok 1970.
Hodori, a tiger cub, was the official mascot of both the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Olympics.
This was the first large-scale international sports event to be hosted by China. A total number of 6,122 athletes from 36 countries competed in 27 sports. Sports that made their debut were canoeing, kabaddi, sepak takraw, softball and wushu.
Baseball and soft tennis were demonstration sports. The build-up to Beijing 1990 saw the death of OCA President Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
OCA headquarters were temporarily moved to Great Britain until the US liberated Kuwait in 1991. PanPan, a panda, served as a memorable mascot.
Bangkok beat off competition from Taipei and Jakarta to win the hosting rights. It marked the fourth time Thailand’s capital had played host, having already done so in 1966, 1970 and 1978.
The Games were officially opened by the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, at the Rajamangala Stadium.
Busan thus became the second South Korean city to stage the Games, following in footsteps of 1986 hosts Seoul. A total number of 6,572 athletes from 44 countries competed in 38 sports.
It was the first time in the history of the Asian Games that all 44 member nations of the Olympic Council of Asia participated.
That included North Korea, which sent an unprecedented delegation to South Korea, and Afghanistan, which returned to the Asian Games for the first time since the Taliban had come to power in 1996. Duria, a seagull, was the Games’ mascot.
It was the first time that all 45 member nations of the Olympic Council of Asia took part in the event. Eurosport broadcast the Games, marking the first time that the event could be watched in Europe.
A total of 9,704 athletes from 45 National Olympic Committees competed in 42 sports.
Five cartoon images of rams were unveiled as the mascots for the Games with the animal holding a long association with the city. The mascots were named A Xiang, A He, A Ru, A Yi and Le Yangyang.
It was the third time South Korea had staged the Olympic Council of Asia’s showpiece event, following in the footsteps of 1986 hosts Seoul and 2002 hosts Busan.
A total of 9,501 athletes from 45 National Olympic Committees competed in 36 sports. Three spotted seal siblings were the official mascots of the Games.
Known as Barame, Chumuro and Vichuon, meaning wind, dance and light, they were chosen as symbolic to the future peace between North Korea and South Korea.
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