International Ties

Asian Games go beyond sports

By Wu Chu (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-08 08:08
Large Medium Small

On July 1, 2004, Guangzhou won the competition to host the 16th Asian Games. The port city of the ancient "Maritime Silk Road", will once be again entrusted with enhancing ties between China and other Asian nations.

In March 2009, a replica wooden sailing boat, the Cocachin, a symbol of the Guangzhou Asian Games "Maritime Silk Road" concept, set sail from Kuwait; nearly 30 countries and regions along its route welcomed this "ambassador of peace, friendship and Asian culture across the world".

Since their debut in 1951, the Asian Games have witnessed the unyielding desire of Asian people for harmony and cooperation.

They are a weathervane of peace in the region. The "blessing to Guangzhou Asian Games global relay", an Internet activity launched by NetEase, received positive responses from netizens of more than 100 Asian cities in Malaysia, Japan and other Asian nations and regions.

In an Asia inhabited by nearly two-thirds of the world population, the Asian Games have become Asia's largest sports gathering and a "symbol of unity" throughout the region, as Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia, described them.

A look at some of the themes of previous Asian Games, from the "peace and friendship" of the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games to the "unity, friendship and progress" of the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing and "Asian harmony" at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, show that the host cities have repeatedly promoted a spirit of "harmony, friendship and cooperation".

In 1986, China sent its athletic delegation to the Republic of Korea (ROK) to attend the 10th Asian Games. The participation of the Chinese delegation helped the two Asian neighbors (which have not established diplomatic relations at the time) draw closer.

When athletes from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the ROK entered the stadium shoulder-to-shoulder at the 2000 Busan Asian Games, the audience enthusiastically responded.

It is clear that Asian countries and people firmly support the 16th Asian Games as a platform for unity and cooperation. More than 10,000 athletes from 45 countries and regions will compete in the Games and more than 4,000 officials will accompany them. Nearly 10,000 journalists are coming to Guangzhou to cover the Games.

The Chinese people are trying their best to present an Asian Games that reflects the concept of harmony, a green Earth and civilization. Guangdong province has built or renovated more than 70 stadiums. Efforts have been made to improve the air and water quality in Guangzhou, update its transportation system, improve the environment for its residents, and build barrier-free facilities. Nearly 600,000 volunteers will go all out to create a comfortable and safe environment for the audiences and athletes.

To meet the needs of Asian countries, the Guangzhou Games have added 14 non-Olympic sports including cricket, sports dance, dragon boat races and rollerskating. The Games organizers are also promoting exchanges of different Asian cultures.

There are many ethnic groups in Asia, the biggest and most populous continent in the world. There is still the need for people in different countries in Asia to better understand each other.

Sport has the power to change the world by dissolving conflicts and resolving disputes in a way that overcomes geological and language barriers. The Guangzhou Games will play an important role in promoting unity and friendship among Asian countries.

The author is an observer of international issues.