Asian Games

2018 Asian Games to feature as many as 39 sports, including bridge, but no cricket

Cricket was dropped after the Olympic Council of Asia complained that major sides had failed to send full-strength squads in the last two Games.

The Asian Games in Indonesia will feature 39 sports, more than at the last event in South Korea, with some unusual additions including bridge, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said Friday. But cricket, which was at the last two Asian Games, is being dropped after the OCA complained that major sides had failed to send full-strength squads.

Other new additions at the 2018 games are pencak silat – an Indonesian martial art – jujitsu, paragliding, jet ski and sport climbing. The number of sports is three higher than at the 2014 games in Incheon, despite the event’s enormous size having sparked criticism in the past. It is also more than the 33 sports planned for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The OCA said previously the maximum number of sports would be 42 but Indonesian officials complained it was too high. After the OCA’s president visited Jakarta this week, the body’s director general Husain Al Musallam said in a statement: “The sports programme has now been reduced to 39 sports, 53 disciplines and 426 events.” He said the decision followed discussions about making the games “more cost effective”.

The huge cost of putting on the event has been a concern in the past – Vietnam was originally going to host the upcoming edition of the games but withdrew due to financial worries. Equestrian events are currently listed under one sport but may still be dropped following an election to the Asian Equestrian Federation later this year, the OCA said.

Indonesia is facing huge challenges to get ready on time for the Asian Games. Preparations have been hit by a flurry of early problems, including allegations that Indonesian Olympic Committee officials embezzled money. The country already has a chequered history when it comes to hosting multi-sport events.

When Indonesia hosted the Southeast Asian Games in 2011, the event was marked by a major corruption scandal, delays in getting venues and infrastructure ready and a deadly stampede at the football final.

The 2018 Asian Games will take place from August 18 to September 2, with most events in Jakarta and Palembang. The country last hosted the Asian Games in 1962.

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