OCA lauds the 19th Asiad's unparalleled successes, from services to sports
The Olympic Council of Asia's acting president, Raja Randhir Singh, has applauded the Hangzhou Games' smooth operation and likened the 19th Asian Games to Olympic standards.
Halfway through its 20-day run, the event has earned plaudits from the OCA for its record-breaking performances at sold-out venues, zealous public support and other successes, with credit given to organizers, venue operation staff and volunteers.
"Having seen many Olympic and Asian Games, from my experiences, this edition ... has raised the bar. It is as good as — if not even better than — the Olympic Games," Singh said, after visiting the Asian Games Museum on its opening day on Thursday.
The world-class facilities, especially the Games Village, and the diverse programs have laid a solid foundation for this sports gala to, in some ways, match next year's Paris Olympics, Singh said.
"The athletes love the Village," said Singh, who represented India in shooting at six consecutive Olympics from 1964 to '84 and at four Asiads from 1978 to '94.
"I've stayed in villages many times when I was competing. And there's never been a village like this beautiful project. You can't ask for more. All the National Olympic Committees and all athletes are so happy and satisfied.
"I think we are definitely not in any way behind what Paris will be doing for the Olympics. Our infrastructure in Hangzhou is as good, or maybe even better."
Singh added that the host's warm reception, as an embodiment of Asian culture's friendliness, will ensure the Hangzhou Games remain a lifelong memory for all international participants.
"That sends a message to all the people who come to the Games, watch the Games and cover the Games," he said. "They will experience the hospitality and welcome that you only have in Asia."
The Hangzhou Asian Games' program features a record number of 481 medal events, including non-Olympic sports that are popular in certain regions. The 12,417 athletes exceed the number at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and are expected to likewise surpass the figure at Paris 2024.
But while representing all the continent's 45 NOCs as a statement of unity, the 19th Asiad's massive scale has raised concerns over the organizational pressure and financial burden for future hosts.
Singh reiterated that the tradition of including regional sports will continue to be honored, but the Games' scale should be kept in check.
"We try to keep the main size of the Asian Games controllable. It should not be too much," said the 76-year-old administrator.
Although athletes and coaches of such non-Olympic sports as cricket enjoy sensational followings in their respective regional markets, they hailed the Asiad as a much-needed platform to gain global exposure.
"It is a very good sign for the Asian Games to bring cricket in," said Mohtashim Rasheed, coach of Pakistan's women's cricket team.
Oshadi Ranasinghe, a veteran of Sri Lanka's women's cricket team, which won silver in Hangzhou, said: "We can popularize the sport better and promote it to other Asian countries. It's a great thing."
According to official stats, five world records in shooting and seven Asian records in swimming had been broken as of Thursday, with more records expected to fall in track and field, weightlifting and sports climbing.
"The standard is getting higher. Asian sports are coming up very fast," Singh said. "Initially, it was Japan and (the Republic of) Korea. Then, the rise of China. Now, other countries are coming up, as well.
"I think in another eight to 10 years, you will see Asians ... on top in many sports."