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The games people play at the Games

11-12-2010 09:25 BJT Special Report:Guangzhou Asian Games |

As the Asiad begins in Guangzhou, Cui Jia and Lei Lei find out how organizers got to grips with some sports that have never graced a Chinese event before.

Holding a young child, a tourist poses for a souvenir photo on Wednesday beside
 a statue of Le Yangyang, the mascot of the 16th Asian Games, at Huacheng Square
in the host city Guangzhou. She Ying / for China Daily

Hosting a major sporting event is never easy. From arranging venues to selling tickets and playing the appropriate music at medal ceremonies, everything poses a potential headache.

Now imagine that the sport in question is one the organizers have never even heard of.

Welcome to the 16th Asian Games, an event that this year boasts not only 14 non-Olympic events but also several that have never before been played competitively on Chinese soil.

Along with popular global sports like badminton, basketball, sailing and cycling, Guangzhou 2010, which officially opens on Friday, will also feature kabbadi, sepak takraw and roller sports.

"The inclusion of non-Olympic sports allows Asian countries to showcase their traditional sports," said Li Naizhen, deputy director of the competition department for the Guangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (GAGOC). "We hope to make the event a festival for all Asian people."

In fact, non-Olympic sports make up roughly 23 percent of all events at this year's Games.

"In some ways, the Asian Games are more difficult to host than the Olympics because Chinese organizers were unfamiliar with sports rarely played here, such as cricket and kabbadi," said Xu Jianping, who is also deputy director of the GAGOC's competition department.

To ensure the events run smoothly, experts from sports federations across Asia were invited to Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong province, to help with preparations. "We also sent staff members to countries where those games are popular to get hands-on experience," added Xu.

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