Thinley Namgay   

The 19th Asian Games where Bhutanese athletes were going to participate from September 10 to 25 in Hangzhou, China was postponed by the organisers.

The decision was taken following the meeting with the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC), the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC), and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Executive Board on May 6.

OCA stated: “Considering the impact of the ongoing pandemic, and the health and safety of the athletes, fans and supporting staff, the OCA Executive Board decided to postpone the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022.”

“The new dates will be announced after they are agreed upon between the OCA, the COC and the HAGOC,” OCA said.

OCA also mentioned that HAGOC has been well prepared to deliver the games on time despite global challenges. “However, the above decision was taken by all the stakeholders after carefully considering the pandemic situation and the size of the games.”

OCA said the name and the emblem of the games would remain the same.

“OCA believes that the games will achieve complete success through the joint efforts of all parties.”

With the motto ‘heart to heart’, around 11,000 athletes from 45 Asian countries will contest in 61 disciplines (40 sports) in the quadrennial continental multi-sport event like the Olympics.

Hangzhou will become the third Chinese city to host the continental competition after Beijing in 1990 and Guangzhou in 2010. As China battles a resurgence of covid-19 cases, this year’s games are expected to push back to 2023.

The construction of all venues and facilities for the games was completed last month.

Meanwhile, Bhutan Olympic Committee’s programme officer Jigme Thinley said Bhutan would compete in aquatics, archery, athletics, boxing, judo, karate, shooting and taekwondo.

Jigme Thinley said the lockdowns in earlier months hampered preparation for the games. “Now, we hope the preparation will go as per plan.”

He said the deferment would provide more time for the athletes to train. Currently, athletes practice regularly.

The  2018 edition of the competition was held in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia and 24 Bhutanese athletes, including nine women, competed in archery, golf, boxing, and taekwondo.

Bhutan has taken part in the games since 1986 without a break. However, the country is yet to win a medal.