2023 Asian Games started in Hangzhou

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Aerial view of Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center

Delayed for a year by COVID-19, the 2023 Asian Games started yesterday in Hangzhou, China, from September 23 to October 8. Over 15 days of competition, the Asian Games will award a total of 481 gold medals. A total of 45 countries have registered for this competition.

Around 12,000 participants will take part in a diverse array of events, including many regional specialties, sports, and games not featured in the Olympics. Cricket, on the path to inclusion in the Olympics, is likely to debut as early as 2028 in Los Angeles and certainly by 2032 in Brisbane, Australia.

Sports like squash, which has made multiple attempts at securing Olympic recognition. The regional offerings include dragon boat racing, sepaktakraw (sometimes referred to as “kick volleyball”), wushu (a Chinese martial art), and kabaddi (a popular contact sport in the Indian subcontinent). Other non-Olympic martial arts like ju-jitsu and kurash, a form of wrestling popular in Central Asia, also feature prominently.

The Games also encompass a wide range of “mind sports,” from bridge to chess to xiangqi (Chinese chess) and even Esports.

While traditional Olympic events such as track and field, swimming, and volleyball are present, the Asian Games offer a unique opportunity for smaller delegations to compete for medals, often challenging unfeasible odds at the Olympics. For example, in the last edition of the Asian Games, held in 2018 in Indonesia, Syria and Nepal managed to secure their first ever medal.

One of the standout events at the Games could be a potential gold-medal clash in men’s cricket between India and Pakistan on October 7, a highly anticipated global sports event occurring concurrently with cricket’s World Cup.

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