Thinley Namgay   

Jeans Zhou Jian, the Director of Media and Broadcast Department  of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), said that the upcoming 19th Asian Games (AG) in Hangzhou, China has been confirmed to be held as per the scheduled timing from September 23 to October 8.

The 19th AG, which was supposed to take place last year, was deferred due to the rising Covid-19 cases in China.

Jeans Zhou Jian, who is on an official visit to Bhutan, said that China is now back to normal from the covid restrictions. “The Covid-19 prevention measure is much easier today. No quarantine is required. The only requirement is 48-hour PCR test for foreigners.  The face mask is needed.”

He said that all sports venues and facilities are prepared to host events. “There are 56 competitions and 32 training venues for different sports. This sports programme is much bigger than the Olympics.”

This year, over 10,000 athletes from more than 45 countries will compete in the 40 sports in 482 events.  E-sport will be new to the competition.

Bhutan will participate in eight sports—swimming, athletics, archery, boxing, judo, Karate, shooting, and taekwondo.

Tentatively, team Bhutan comprising 30 athletes (eight women), nine coaches, and a few officials will travel to China.

Bhutan Olympic Committee’s (BOC) secretary general, Sonam Karma Tshering, said that Bhutan will try its best to achieve good results. “Bhutan has not won a medal in the AG so far but our athletes will try their best.”

“If our athletes do well in Hangzhou, it will be a historic occasion for Bhutan. This year’s games will be one of the most exciting events in the history of the competition,” he said.

Sonam Karma Tshering said the AG is not only a platform for athletic excellence but also a celebration of the cultural diversity of Asia.

He said, “The OCA and The Hangzhou AG Organising Committee have worked tirelessly for the last few years to ensure that the games are not only successful but also sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

BOC’s programme officer, Jigme Thinley, said that Bhutan started preparing for the games for almost two years now.  He said the preparation was conducted based on the government’s Covid restriction protocols.  “Now the athletes are preparing seriously.”

Jigme Thinley said that BOC has selected eight sports based on eligibility criteria such as the capability of the athletes.

Athletes said that their training is on track and that they are prepared to feature well in the games.

Archer Karma said, “It has been a few months that archers are in intensive training. It’s difficult to predict the outcome of the competition, but we are confident to give our best.”

Athletes said that they still have enough time for the practice and ensure that it will be used productively.

Pre-activities for the AG was organised in most of the participating Asian countries.

The two events are—on-the-spot-art competition for those below 13 years of age, and the AG

fun run.  Bhutan conducted both events. The fun run yesterday saw around 450 runners.  Twenty children took part in the art competition recently.

His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, the President of the BOC, graced the fun run yesterday.

In the 18th edition of the competition in Indonesia in 2018, 24 Bhutanese athletes, including nine women, competed in archery, golf, boxing, and taekwondo.

Bhutan has been taking part in the games since 1986.