Largest Winter Asiad starts

By Lei Lei (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-29 07:04

CHANGCHUN, Jilin Province: Two men's ice hockey teams and an alpine skier from the Middle East were among those making their debut as the curtain rose at the Sixth Asian Winter Games yesterday in the capital of Northeast China's Jilin Province.

President Hu Jintao declared open the largest-ever Winter Asiad which has attracted all the 45 members of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) at Changchun Wuhuan Gymnasium last night.

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Fifteen countries, including, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan, are attending for the first time. Kuwait and the UAE are fielding men's ice hockey teams while Palestine has an alpine skier.

"This is a great achievement for the organizing committee," said OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

More than 800 athletes also a record will compete for medals in 47 events in 10 disciplines from five sports. The games, co-hosted by nearby Jilin city, will run till February 4.

China's star figure skater Zhao Hongbo led the hosts as the flag bearer when the delegation marched into the gymnasium. Zhao and partner Shen Xue were world champions in 2002 and 2003 and won a bronze at the Winter Olympics in Turin last year. China has the largest delegation of more than 160 athletes, who will compete in all 47 events.

China topped the medal tally twice in the previous five Winter Asiads Harbin in 1996 and Kangwon, South Korea, in 1999. It finished third with 9 golds at the last Winter Asiad in 2003, behind Japan and South Korea, which won 25 and 10 golds.

(China Daily 01/29/2007 page1)

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