DAYS after Oceania athletes’ hopes of competing at future Asian Games appeared to be dashed, it was confirmed a small contingent will be allowed to enter from 2022.
Around 300 athletes, with 150 support staff, from Oceania will be allowed at the Games – but only if their qualification paths for the 2024 Olympics go through Asia.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), whose president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah said two days earlier that the Asian Games were at capacity, has relented where some sports are concerned.
Those sports which have an Olympic qualification path in Asia include volleyball, football, basketball and equestrian.
But John Coates, the president of the Australian Olympic Committee, appeared to rule out equestrian due to quarantine regulations.
The quadrennial Games – the second biggest after the Summer Olympics – will take place in Indonesia next year and then in Hangzhou, China, in 2022.
“I welcome today’s announcement of the invitation for Oceania athletes to participate in the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, in the sports for which their qualification for the next Summer Olympic Games is through Asia,” said Coates.
“Consistent with the OCA’s decision to cap the number of athletes, coaches, doctors and other support staff in the Asian Games at 15,000 (10,000 athletes/5,000 support staff) the numbers from the NOCs of Oceania will be capped at around 300 athletes and 150 support staff.
“Volleyball, football, basketball and equestrian are among the sports for which Olympic qualification for Australia is likely to be through Asia.
“It is however unlikely that equestrian would take up this opportunity because quarantine rules generally require the horses to be quarantined for up to six months on return from China.
“The international federations are currently determining their qualification rules for Tokyo 2020 –and these will provide a guide as to all of the sports and NOCs for which qualification from Oceania will be through Asia for Paris 2024.”
Coates, an International Olympic Committee vice president, has long pushed for Australia’s athletes to be included in the Asian Games to expose them to tougher competition.
Australian athletes competed at the Asian Winter Games as guests in Sapporo earlier this year, while Keshena Waterford’s bronze medal in taekwondo at the Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, on Thursday was the nation’s first at the event.