MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australia hopes to bring a full delegation of athletes to the 2022 Asian Summer Games in China and is seeking approval from the continent’s Olympic council, Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates has said.
Australia, a member of the Oceania Olympic federation, has sent 30 athletes to the ongoing Asian Winter Games in Japan’s northern city of Sapporo as a “guest” delegation following an invitation from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
Coates said it was too late for Australia to compete in next year’s Summer Games in Indonesia but their bid for inclusion at the 2022 event in China’s eastern city of Hangzhou would be tabled at an OCA meeting in September.
“Discussions are underway and I believe there would be great interest in the Asian Games amongst our member sports,” Coates told News Ltd media.
“Particularly in sports where the Asian countries are strong (such as) gymnastics, badminton and table tennis.
“I believe participating in the Asian Games would be very good for us.”
The Asian Games, the biggest multi-sport event after the Olympics, will have 45 OCA member countries competing in 2018.
Australia participates in the quadrennial Commonwealth Games and will host the 2018 event in the Gold Coast.
Both the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games are scheduled for 2022, presenting a logistical challenge should Australia hope to send athletes to both.
Australia has long sought closer sporting ties with Asia to expose their athletes to stiffer competition from the likes of China, Japan and South Korea.
In 2006, Australia’s national soccer body left Oceania to join the Asian Football Confederation, a move that has helped generate interest in the game Down Under.
Australia qualified for the 2010 and 2014 soccer World Cups through Asian qualifying and hosted the 2015 Asian Cup.
(Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)