Asian Sports activities Ought to Be Higher Represented in Olympics – IDN InDepthNews | Evaluation That Issues

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By Kalinga Seneviratne
SYDNEY (IDN) — Japan was the primary Asian nation to host a summer season Olympic Video games in 1964 and this yr turned the one Asian nation to host it twice. The Olympics that concluded on August 8, included only a few sports activities that could possibly be referred to as Asian, and the query begs whether or not Japan had achieved sufficient to advertise extra Asian sports activities within the newest Olympic Video games.
5 new sports activities entered the Olympics program in Tokyo—Skateboarding, Karate, Browsing, Baseball/Softball, and Sports activities Climbing—aside from Karate (that was reinstated to the Olympic program) not one of the different sports activities could possibly be thought of as popularly practiced in Asia, besides in some city enclaves. Volleyball, a well-liked sport performed by hundreds of thousands of individuals throughout Asia was included within the 1964 Tokyo Olympics program and it has remained an Olympic sport ever since. Japan ought to have pushed for extra in style conventional Asian sports activities comparable to Sepak Takraw to be included within the 2020 Video games.
When Seoul hosted the Olympic Video games in 1988, they included a 2000-year-old martial artwork recognized right this moment as Taekwondo into the Olympic program as an indication sport, and for the reason that 2000 Video games in Sydney, it has maintained its standing as a full medal sport.
One of many enduring pictures of the Sydney 2000 Video games was when Lauren Burns received Australia’s first gold medal in Taekwondo and he or she was carried off the stage on the shoulders of her delighted Korean coach to wild applause from the Australian spectators. This yr Thailand’s Panipak Wongpattanakit received the gold medal from Spain’s Adriana Cerezo Iglesias within the ladies’s taekwondo 49kg occasion at Tokyo 2020. Thus after changing into an Olympic sport the sport has received converts all over the world.
Two different Asian sports activities which can be knocking on the doorways of the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) are Sepak Takraw and Kabbadi. The previous sport, often known as kick volleyball, is claimed to have originated across the ninth century in Asia. The target of the game is for one group (of 5 gamers) to ship the ball over the web and floor it within the opponent’s half. In Sepak Takraw, gamers should not allowed to make use of their arms. They cross and shoot by leaping excessive within the air, inverting their our bodies to slam the ball with nice velocity.
I used to be launched to this sport on the 1998 Asian Video games in Bangkok, which I lined for a world information company. On the remaining in Bangkok’s 10,000 capability indoor stadium the place Thailand and Indonesia competed for gold, I witnessed a gyrating Indonesian kick a rattan ball over the web and it was returned by an equally acrobatic Thai participant who used a summersault kick to land the ball on the bottom between 2 Indonesian gamers stretching their legs to succeed in it to the delight of a capability crowd of drum-beating Thai followers. The environment there was electrifyingly matching the motion on the court docket.
Ever since then I’ve been questioning why Sepak Takraw just isn’t an Olympic sport. It has the potential to turn out to be one of many best spectator sports activities on the earth, and it’s tailored for tv. These Southeast Asian billionaires who’ve a fetish to spend money on British soccer golf equipment ought to put their cash into growing Sepak Takraw as a worldwide televised sport.
Based on Abdul Halim Kader, director-general of the Worldwide Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTF), they’re but to be acknowledged as a world federation by the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC).  “We hope to be acknowledged throughout the subsequent 4 years,” he informed Japan’s, Nikkei Asia.
For a brand new sport to be authorized by the IOC for inclusion, it has to observe sure tips comparable to being ruled by an Worldwide Federation which undertakes to observe the foundations of the Olympic Constitution, and it should even be practiced broadly the world over. It’s questionable whether or not Olympic sports activities comparable to Equestrian and Crusing may fall into the latter class as these are elite sports activities practiced by a number of wealthy folks in wealthy international locations.
A brand new criterion has crept into the IOC pondering these days, which will clarify the questionable inclusion of recent stylish sports activities (in case you can name them so) in western international locations in some city conclaves throughout Asia, that has been promoted by the Anglo-American international tv community particularly.
In introducing new sports activities into the Tokyo and Paris Olympic program, comparable to bicycle motocross, BMX, skateboarding and browsing, IOC President Thomas Bach defined: “We need to take sports activities to the youth. With the various choices that younger folks have, we can not anticipate any greater than they’ll come routinely to us. We have now to go to them.”
John Duerden, a Singapore-based sports activities journalist writing within the As we speak newspaper argues {that a} new sport has to persuade the IOC that they’ve as a lot to supply off the court docket when it comes to marketability and income from broadcasting and sponsorship.  Thus, Skateboarding scored extremely on social media engagement with the 18 to 34 age group, a key requisite for the IOC. This is similar purpose for together with the opposite sports activities excluding Karate.
“The IOC has turn out to be particularly serious about sports activities that attraction to the subsequent technology amid issues that younger persons are not as within the Olympics as their dad and mom and grandparents,” notes Duerden.
That is maybe a problem Kabaddi has taken up, which is especially in style in South Asia, house to about 1/third of the worldwide inhabitants. It’s a fast-paced sport the place groups of seven attempt to enterprise into the opponent’s territory and contact as many rivals as attainable. Kabaddi’s greatest problem is persuading the IOC that the sport is adopted to a major diploma outdoors its South Asian homeland.
Since being included as an Asian Video games sport in 1990, Kabbadi’s attraction in Asia has elevated and within the 2018 Jakarta Video games, 11 groups participated that included Japan, South Korea, Iran, Malaysia, and Indonesia. China has not participated for the reason that 1990 Video games, and whereas India has dominated the gold medal tally, in 2018 India’s dominance was halted when Iran received gold.
A Professional Kabaddi League (PKL) modelled on India’s profitable IPL cricket extravaganza was launched in India in 2014. As a result of Kabaddi is massively in style in grassroots communities which can be infiltrated by satellite tv for pc tv, the PKL has turn out to be an enormous success with the inaugural season attracting 435 million viewers. It has been modelled for tv with a mode of commentary and presentation that’s much like the telecast of Sumo Wrestling. Thus, it has the potential to turn out to be a worldwide phenomenon just like the latter. In April this yr, Star India renewed its contract to broadcast PKL at a price of $24 million a yr.
If Kabaddi may entice comparable audiences Sumo Wrestling attracts the world over, it is going to go a great distance in convincing IOC’s Euro-centric minds to incorporate the game within the Olympics, and the identical would apply to Sepak Takwra.
In the meantime, Abdul Halim Kader of ISTF says they’re pushing for Sepak Takraw to be included within the 2030 Youth Olympics, which is more likely to be hosted in Thailand. “This could possibly be a primary step (in the direction of changing into an Olympic sport),” he says. [IDN-InDepthNews — 10 August 2021]
Photograph: Iran males’s nationwide kabaddi group, which received gold, halting India’s dominance in Asian Video games 2018. Credit score: Fars Information Company. CC BY 4.0
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