ERIC ANDERSON WRITES-The Olympic Council of Asia has a mission: to promote cultural awareness, equality, respect, and clean and fair play through the latest sports and trends. The Council controls all sports in Asia and is one of five continental associations recognized by the International Olympic Committee, headquartered in Kuwait.
And so, the OCA will host the 6th annual Asian Beach Games November 28 to December 5 in Sanya, known as the “Hawaii of China.”
The Asian Beach Games represent 22 total sports and disciplines, which in turn represent 45 countries. According to the Olympic Council of Asia, this inclusivity of sports and countries has “established a rich and diverse programme for the various themed games which include popular sporting activities; a combination of traditional Olympic, non Olympic and Asian sports alike.” Several traditional sports and disciplines will be played, such as: basketball, volleyball, Jiu-Jitsu, waterpolo, beach soccer and surfing.
There will also be non- Olympic sports, such as the Dragon Boat and Beach Kabaddi.
Dragon Boat, held on the Sanya, will have teams with anywhere from 10-50 paddlers. The boat, decorated to look like a dragon from head to tail, will feature paddlers attempting to synchronize their strokes to the rhythm of a drum located at the head of the boat. Beach Kabaddi is a combative sport with two teams of 4 players- the offensive team of “Raiders”and the defensive “Antis.” Raiding players will enter the Antis zone while chanting, “ KABADDI!!!” as they attempt to touch an opposing player. The Antis will then try to capture the players in their zone. The Raiders must escape capture in order to secure team points.
Asian Beach Games have been successful due to the low cost of utilizing pre-existing natural resources, such as sand and sea, combined with the potential to boost tourism and excitement surrounding sports. “Mini” stadiums can be set up relatively quickly because extensive infrastructure does not need to be built, meaning stadiums can be torn down, leaving the original landscape intact, without leaving a carbon footprint. Additionally, no Olympic Village is needed to house athletes, coaches, and trainers because high quality hotels are available.
Sanya has two thousand years of rich history. Known for its remoteness during Imperial China– then known as “the end of the sky and ocean–” it served as a place of exile for those who did not side with the country’s rulers. Today, Sanya is home to many tourist attractions such as Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone, Tianya Haijiao Scenic Spot (End of the Earth), Luobi Cave, and Yazhou Ancient City. Hainan Island.
Throughout the past five Asian Beach Games, no country has been more victorious than Thailand, winning 317 medals— 117 more than the next closest country, Vietnam. Both Thailand and Vietnam have taken part in the Asian Beach Games since the inaugural games held in Bali, Indonesia in 2008, having since become a staple on the Asian calendar.
The Olympic Council of Asia has done a fine job of commandeering the Asian Beach Games, but only the players can determine whether another country will finally take the lead. Games on.