Hosting '26 Asian Games will 'wipe away' Japanese doubts
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Hosting '26 Asian Games will 'wipe away' Japanese doubts

Japan's athletes and officials take part in the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games. (Photo: AFP)
Japan's athletes and officials take part in the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games. (Photo: AFP)

Hangzhou: The 2026 Asian Games in Japan can "wipe away" public doubts over holding major sporting events, a senior official told AFP, following a wide-ranging corruption scandal surrounding the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

It came as Japanese media reported that Sapporo is set to abandon its bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics and may now instead try for 2034 or later.

Graft scandals from the Tokyo Olympics, which were delayed to 2021 because of Covid, have damaged public support for hosting major competitions in Japan and have forced a rethink over the Sapporo bid.

The 19th Asian Games, which boast more athletes than the Olympics, wrap up in the Chinese city of Hangzhou on Sunday and the central Japanese city of Nagoya and the wider Aichi area is the next host of the quadrennial tournament.

Organising committee acting director-general Yasuhiro Nakamori admitted the public perception of events "might have got worse" since the Tokyo Olympics, which took place in a Covid-secure "bubble".

But he believes holding a successful Asian Games will dispel any doubts.

"During the Tokyo Olympics themselves, the athletes' performances really moved people, not just in Japan but around the world too," he said, speaking in Hangzhou.

"We want to wipe away that image by putting on an event that shows the athletes giving their best performance."

Nakamori warned that Aichi-Nagoya organisers must make sure they do not "repeat the same mistakes" as Tokyo.

Bribery and bid-rigging allegations in the aftermath of the Tokyo Games have implicated major companies and seen several business figures convicted.

"To make sure there is absolutely no more bid-rigging or corruption, we need to have a procurement committee and have third-party oversight so that we create a flawless system," Nakamori said.

The Hangzhou Asian Games has featured about 12,000 competitors from 45 nations and territories battling it out in 40 sports.

Another concern among Japanese people is the cost of staging such a vast event.

Nakamori said the Aichi-Nagoya Games will "make effective use" of existing facilities, with only two new ones.

That means some sports will be held outside the Aichi-Nagoya area, with swimming, one of the main events, taking place over 350km away at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre -- a venue for the Tokyo Olympics. afp

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