Hangzhou, People’s Republic of China – The 19th Asian Games are set to kick off from 23rd September to 8th October 2023 in Hangzhou, People’s Republic of China. Originally scheduled for 2022, the event was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This mammoth multi-sports competition will bring together thousands of athletes from across Asia to compete in a staggering 481 events over 15 days, concluding with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, 8th October.
Interestingly, this year’s Asian Games will have a significant impact on the Paris 2024 Olympics, as qualification quotas for nine sports, including archery, artistic swimming, boxing, breaking, hockey, modern pentathlon, sailing, tennis, and water polo, will be up for grabs. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect in Hangzhou:
Cricket’s Unusual Appearance:
The Asian Games will feature a sport that is not currently part of the Olympic program: cricket. India and Pakistan, two cricketing giants, are likely to face off in the finals on 25th September (women’s) and 7th October (men’s), with both nations fielding their best players.
The athletics events promise some thrilling showdowns, with world champions like Neeraj Chopra (India), Kitaguchi Haruka (Japan), Mutaz Barshim (Qatar), Woo Sang-hyeok (Republic of Korea), and pole vaulter EJ Obiena (Philippines) set to compete.
The pool will host some star-studded competitions, featuring swimmers like Pan Zhanle and Hwang Sun-woo in the men’s 100m and 200m freestyle. The likes of Ikee Rikako, Watanabe Ippei, Narita Mio, Li Bingjie, Siobhan Haughey, and Zhang Yufei are also expected to shine in their respective events.
While China traditionally dominates diving, Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong Pamg and Nur Dhabitah Sabri aim to break the mold and secure medals, although the host nation remains strong contenders for gold.
Artistic gymnastics will be without some stars due to the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. However, the hosts, who have already secured a Paris 2024 qualifying quota in the sport, will field a full-strength team. Additionally, Uzbekistan’s legendary gymnast, Oksana Chusovitina, will be competing after narrowly missing qualification for the World Championships.
While Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, the men’s Olympic champion and world number 1, will not be at the Asian Games, the world’s best in both men’s and women’s singles are expected to participate, including the recently crowned world champions Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Thailand) and An Seyoung (Republic of Korea).
Table Tennis Titans:
The table tennis competitions are likely to revolve around whether anyone can break China’s dominance in the sport, with world number 1 paddlers Fan Zhendong and Sun Yingsha aiming for top honors.
As the Asian Games in Hangzhou draw closer, anticipation and excitement mount for these thrilling athletic spectacles that will not only captivate sports enthusiasts but also play a pivotal role in shaping the path to the Paris 2024 Olympics. Stay tuned to witness the fierce competition and extraordinary feats of athleticism unfold.