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Hangzhou considers expansion of Asian Games athlete numbers as applications surge

By Lu Wenao| Global Times| Updated: May 5, 2023 L M S


Photo: Lin Xiaoyi/GT

Delegations of Hong Kong, Macao and Chinese Taipei are expected to send their biggest teams in history to the Asian Games in Hangzhou this year, according to a senior official from the organizing committee, as the host city considers expansion of participant numbers.

Chen Weiqiang, deputy secretary general of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games organizing committee, said at a press briefing on Thursday in Beijing that the host city contract with the Olympic Council of Asia sets a limit of allowing 10,400 athletes and officials to participate in the event.

However, initial applications for the participation of the athletes alone have surpassed 18,000, said Chen, also deputy mayor of Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province. 

"The participants' enthusiasm is at a very high level," Chen told reporters. "We are working to optimize the [screening] process."

He also noted that after delegates from Hong Kong, Macao and Chinese Taipei have expressed that they are sending the biggest teams in history to participate in the Hangzhou Games, the organizers are seeking if there could be an adjustment for the number limit. 

Thursday marks the 149-day countdown to the Asian Games, which is scheduled to be held from September 23 to October 8 following a one-year postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

China has hosted the Asian Games twice, heralded by Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010 where China won 341 and 416 medals respectively. 

The Chinese delegation is yet to unveil its squad for the Asian Games. China remains the team to beat at the summer Asian Games, as it has bagged 1,473 gold medals, ranking first in Asia, at the intra-continental event.

The organizers have prepared 56 competition venues and 31 training facilities for the Games, with only 12 venues newly built. But not all the venues are located in Hangzhou, as five other cities in Zhejiang will co-host the competitions, including sailing games in Ningbo and dragon boat races in Wenzhou.

The opening ceremony will be held at the iconic Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, nicknamed "Big Lotus" for its unique appearance. The venue, which has a capacity of 80,000 seats, will host concerts over coming weeks as the organizers want to test the influx of the huge crowds before the Games. 

The organizers have also planned 50 test events for the Games, including seven international competitions. One of the test events will take place shortly. 

The national swimming championships is set to take place from May 1 to 6 in Hangzhou, a city which is home to several Chinese swimming stars such as Olympic gold medalists Ye Shiwen and Wang Shun.

The e-sports competitions will make its debut in a multi-sport event at the Asian Games. It is expected to drive thousands of fans to watch the brand-new competition.

After the postponement of the Asian Games announced last year, the organizing committee has facilitated the competition venues to open free or with cheap entry prices to the public. Over 10 million locals have taken the chance to use the competition venues, according to the organizers.

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