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Record broken even before Asian Winter Games start

Record broken even before Asian Winter Games start

A record number of competitors will take part in the Asian Winter Games starting tomorrow in a tribute to the widening appeal of winter sports in the region.
More than 1,000 athletes from the sub-tropics of Southeast Asia to the deserts of Arabia will vie for medals in 10 sports from January 28 to February 4.
Twenty-seven countries and territories - nine more than at the last meeting four years ago - will take part in the Games, many in a genuine display of the Olympic have-a-go spirit.
"We want people all over the world to know that the UAE (United Arab Emirates), though a desert, also has an ice hockey team," Abdul Razzaq Al Khaja, head of the UAE delegation, said before leaving for Changchun.
Asia's taste for winter sports has grown since Japan hosted the Winter Olympics for the first time in 1972. Rising affluence has helped spur the region's development of winter sport resorts notably in South Korea, Japan and northern China. Changchun has been at the heart of winter sports development in China.
Outside China, the popularity of winter sports has clearly been growing in countries where ice is normally only found in cold drinks. Tropical Thailand was the first country to raise its flag in Changchun this week and Supitr Samahito, the delegation's leader, said many youngsters back home were keen on ice hockey.
The Winter Games feature traditional crowd-pleasing events like Alpine skiing and figure skating, while also showcasing more obscure sports like curling, the Scottish import new to most Chinese.
China, with 160 competitors, has the largest delegation at the Games and will compete in all 47 events.
Japan are Asian champions after dominating the Games four years ago on home ground, but are recovering from disappointment at the Turin Olympics last year when they won only one gold medal in figure skating, finishing behind South Korea and China in the medal standings.
Missing from Changchun is Shizuka Arakawa, who gave Japan and Asia their first ever Olympic figure skating gold with her surprise victory in the women's event in Turin.
She has since turned professional, but Japan still has world-class skaters and is hoping for a dozen gold medals here, mostly from the ice, despite the absence of another talented female skater, teenager Maomai Asada. Her teammate Fumie Suguri, fourth at the Turin Olympics, is the big favorite here.
China also has ambitions on ice with their pairs duo of former world champions Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, the Olympic bronze medallist, expected to vie for gold with Chinese rivals Pang Qing and Tong Jian, the new world champions.
In skiing, China can boast world-class competitors including Han Xiaopeng, gold medallist in the men's freestyle skiing in Turin, and Li Nina, Olympic silver medallist in the women's freestyle.


Updated : 2021-08-01 10:25 GMT+08:00