Australia wants to join Asian Games party
But Singapore and Malaysia Olympic officials say desire to join Asiad is not a straightforward decision
Australia wants to join the Asian Games from 2022 onwards, but Olympic officials The New Paper spoke to said it may not be a simple move to pull off.
"The inclusion for Australia to join the Asian Games is a collective decision which the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of Asia have to make," said a Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) spokesman yesterday.
"There are many factors to consider and we will discuss this with our fellow NOC colleagues if it is tabled at the next OCA (Olympic Council of Asia) General Assembly."
Yesterday, Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates said it was too late for Australia to compete in next year's Asiad in Indonesia, but their bid for inclusion at the 2022 event in China's eastern city of Hangzhou would be tabled at an OCA meeting in September.
"Discussions are underway and I believe there would be great interest in the Asian Games amongst our member sports," he told News Ltd media.
"Particularly in sports where the Asian countries are strong (such as) gymnastics, badminton and table tennis.
"I believe participating in the Asian Games would be very good for us."
The Asian Games, the biggest multi-sport event after the Olympics, will have 45 OCA member countries competing in 2018.
The OCA will have to consider the size of the existing Games when it considers Australia's bid, warned Olympic Council of Malaysia secretary general Low Beng Choo.
She said: "Australia's contingent will not be small... as it is, the host countries now are already bursting at the seams (with the numbers).
"You're talking about additional responsibility of the hosts in everything, from accommodation, transportation and officials."
Australia, a member of the Oceania Olympic federation, has sent 30 athletes to the ongoing Asian Winter Games in Sapporo as a "guest" delegation following an invitation from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
The Australians will also send a full contingent to the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan in September, and has long sought closer sporting ties with Asia to expose their athletes to stiffer competition from the likes of China, Japan and South Korea.
In 2006, Australia's national football body left Oceania to join the Asian Football Confederation, a move that has helped generate interest in the game Down Under.
Australia qualified for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups through Asian qualifying and hosted the 2015 Asian Cup.
Low argued that Australia could help develop the Oceanic region with its own continental or sub-continental Games, like how the South-east Asia Games helped to develop sports in Asean.
She said: "When our forefathers had the foresight to start the SEA Games, and the Asian Games, and it started very small.
"It took them many, many years to mature the Games.
"You also have to consider that the competition levels will be different as well; in swimming, for example, you may not win so many medals as before.
She added, half-jokingly: "Well, maybe except your (Olympic champion) Joseph Schooling."