Putting athletes first

By HE QI | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-08 09:52
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Ding Ning.

Chinese table tennis great Ding Ning among new members elected to OCA's Athletes Committee after Hangzhou vote

The Olympic Council of Asia on Saturday announced the addition of nine new members to its Athletes Committee.

"We have an election for our Athletes Committee for the first time in OCA history," said Mikako Kotani, chair of the committee, at the Main Media Centre following the vote, which was conducted across the athlete villages at the Hangzhou Asian Games.

"We were delighted to see candidates from all five zones (within the OCA). We had 26 athletes stand for election, which is a great number," Kotani added.

"I was glad to know athletes are serving for the betterment of athletes. We keep pushing forward and now we have athlete committees in most of the National Olympic Committees in Asia."

Former Olympic champion table tennis champion Ding Ning of the Chinese mainland, and Lee Chun-ho of Hong Kong, China, with 4,435 and 2,188 votes respectively, were elected as East Asia's female and male representatives on the committee.

"I am honored to be on this committee. I am very happy to join and I will try my best to help athletes in need," said Ding.

"I have competed multiple times (in major sports events) and this occasion is a special one.

"This whole experience is a memorable one. There is also a Korean candidate sitting in the audience, and we have spent a lot of time together. I hope we can work together to promote the Olympic Movement and support our cause."

Ding stressed that she is keen to expand her knowledge in order to conduct her role as best as possible.

"I want to help athletes enjoy a better life when they retire. I want to help these athletes realize their dreams and help them make the right decisions when they retire," she added.

Julyana Al Sadeq of Jordan, with 4,410 votes, and Husein Alireza of Saudi Arabia, with 2,381 votes were elected as West Asia's representatives.

Central Asia is represented by Zulhumar Dashkinova and Merdan Atayev, both of Turkmenistan, with 3,340 and 3,411 votes, respectively.

Saina Nehwal was elected as the only candidate in South Asia, with 7,785 votes. Ng Shayna and the only male candidate, Terry Tay, were elected as Southeast Asia's representatives, with 3,147 and 7,785 votes, respectively.

As the first-ever election for the OCA's Athletes Committee, there was a 66 percent voter turnout at the Asian Games Village.

"It's very nice to see the numbers and how the numbers were increasing day after day," said Tony Tarraf, director of the athletes development department of the OCA Athletes Committee.

"Until the last day (Friday), we reached 7,785 votes — a 66 percent voting rate. This is a big percentage for elections taking place for the first time. It's really great to see other athletes from Asia being so interested and really looking forward to placing their votes for their representatives at the OCA," Tarraf said.

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