The 18th edition of the Asian Games will formally start with the inaugural ceremony at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, tomorrow (Saturday). From a mere six sporting disciplines and 11 nations in the first ever official Asian Games at the National Stadium (now Major Dhyan Chand Stadium) in New Delhi, the 18th Asian Games at Jakarta and Palembang will witness athletes from 45 nations competing in 45 medal disciplines.
The torch relay, that connects the participating nations, and the mascot, the identity of the games, are today an integral part of the multi-nation, multi-sports Games, believe it or not, the inaugural Asian Games in 1951 neither had a torch relay nor a mascot. In fact, it had taken several editions of these two key aspects of the Games to emerge.
Here are 20 interesting trivial facts in the 68-year and 18-edition journey of the Asian Games:
- The first ever official Games in New Delhi in 1951 had the representation of only 11 countries in six disciplines. The 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang will feature 45 Asian nations in 58 sporting disciplines.
- In spite of India being a “Super Power” in Hockey then, the sport was not included in the New Delhi Asian Games in 1951. India had won all the six Olympic golds in Hockey between 1928 and 1956.
- Jakarta, Indonesia, has also played host to the 4th edition of the Asian Games in 1962.
- The 18th Asian Games also mark the first occasion when the Asian Games competition is spread across two cities – Jakarta and Palembang.
- The 1958 Tokyo included the field hockey ever in the Asian Games.
- The 1958 Tokyo is also credited for the debut of the Torch Relay in the Asian Games.
- In the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, Indonesia government did not issue visas to athletes from Israel and Taiwan for political reasons.
- At the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi also marked the first ever broadcast on coloured television in India. The games with the state-of-the-art technology and hi-tech OB vans had ushered a new era for television broadcast in India.
- The 1982 Asian Games New Delhi were also the first Asiad ever to have a Games’ mascot – Appu.
- At the Seoul Asian Games in 1986, India’s PT Usha won four gold and one silver medal.
- The 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games in Japan were the first time ever that Asiad were hosted by a city other than a national Capital.
- Bangkok Thailand has hosted the event four times, and on each occasion, the closing of the Games was on the same day, December 20, and all were opened by Bhumibol Adulyadej.
- Bhutan, Maldives and Timor-Leste (East Timor) are yet to win a single medal at the Asian Games.
- In 2018 it will be the first time the Asian Games are being co-hosted in two cities – the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, and Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra province.
- Bangkok is the only city to have hosted the Asian Games on FOUR occasions – 1966, 1970, 1978 and 1998. Bangkok is also the only city to host two consecutive Asian Games. Bangkok twice played host to the Asian Games as the countries which were allocated the right to host – Seoul (1970) and Singapore (1978) – have declined.
- Also in 1978, Islamabad was first chosen to host the Asian Games but Pakistan had declined due to conflicts with India and Bangladesh. Pakistan is yet to get an Asian Games ever since.
- The 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok were the first time ever when an Asian Games host city was decided by the bidding process.
- South Korea has played host to the Asian Games thrice – Seoul in 1986, Busan in 2002 and Incheon in 2014.
- Japan in 2026 will host the Asian Games for the third occasion after Tokyo (1958) and Hiroshima (1994).
- India, China and Indonesia have hosted the Asian Games on two occasions.