(ATR) Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah says Hanoi has a tall order ahead but will deliver the "best Games ever for Asia" in 2019.
Sheikh Ahmad is flanked by leaders of Hanoi 2019. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
“There is a lot to do in Vietnam, but with our experience, with the leaders of the sport movement in their country, we trust they will reach their commitment and will prepare the best Games ever for Asia,” he said Thursday at a press conference following the OCA General Assembly in Macau.
Hanoi defeated Surabaya, Indonesia for the right to stage the 2019 Asian Games. Because of the strength of its bid, Surabaya was awarded the 2021 Asian Youth Games. Dubai, United Arab Emirates withdrew from the race to focus on staging “future events,” Ahmad said.
“Both cities prepared themselves very well,” he added. “All of them are ready and capable to host the events.”
Vietnamese sports minister Huang Tuan Anh said the first job of the organizing committee is to stage a meeting with all relevant authorities to plan the event. The meeting, he said, will take place “early next year”.
He claimed some of the factors in Hanoi’s victory were its rapidly growing economy combined with “the development of sport in Vietnam”.
“This created happiness for Vietnam,” he said.
Sheikh Ahmad and Hanoi 2019 sign the host city contract. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
With the Games, Anh said Vietnam has the chance to transform Hanoi, similarly to Beijing following the 2008 Olympics.
Sheikh Ahmad, also an IOC member from Kuwait and president of the Association of National Olympic Committees, said the high number of qualified cities bidding for OCA events filled him with pride.
“That means our events are very important.”
He also encouraged future bids from Dubai.
“I think Dubai should bid for the [2023 Asian Games], they have the infrastructure. There is no shortage of hosting anything, not only the Asian Games but other big events.”
These will be the first Asian Games taking place under the new Asiad cycle. Previous editions took place every four years in the even-numbered years between the Summer Olympics. Now the Asian Games will take place in the year prior to the Olympics.
OCA to Endorse Tokyo 2020
Expect OCA to support the candidacy of Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.
"Asia always supports their interests," says Sheikh Ahmad. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
“As NOCs, we are following the presentations of Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid,” Ahmad explained.
“We hope for the success of three cities, but as a principle, Asian members support the Asian candidate as always. Asia always supports their interests ... we will work for Tokyo. Asian matter will follow Asian interests, and this organization will never change.”
It's unclear how that support will take shape. The most likely scenario is at the next OCA General Assembly taking place in Manila next year, where a resolution could be introduced endorsing the bid city.
James Macleod, LOCOG’s head of NOC relations, delivered London 2012's farewell to Asia.
The OCA General Assembly. (ATR/Panasonic Lumix)
He praised the performance of Asian NOCs during the Games, including 74 gold medals, an improvement from Beijing 2008, and the first individual medals for Hong Kong and Singapore, among other achievements.
“You did really well,” he said.
“You have come to London 44 times in the lead-up to the Games, and 16 Asian NOCs had pre-Games training camps in the U.K.
“Thank you for your collaboration over the last seven years.”
He said ticket sales to NOCs topped one million for the Games, a new record.
Macleod also pointed out his that department is about to complete its Olympic duty, officially closing its doors next week.
However, LOCOG will remain in contact with NOCs for at least the next month, he said, issuing the final repayments to NOCs for Games-related expenses.
Reported in Macau by Ed Hula III
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