— Published 9 October 2023

China has crushed the competition

The 2023 Asian Games come to a close in Hangzhou, China. They opened with a high-tech opening ceremony on Saturday 23 September and closed on Sunday 8 October in the same 80,000-seat stadium. The Chinese President, Xi Jinping, travelled to Hangzhou for the opening and declared the 19th Asian Games open. For the closing ceremony on Sunday evening, he was represented by Premier Li Qiang. In the meantime, the continental event was marked by the debut of e-sports in the competition programme, the almost total absence of masks among athletes, officials and spectators alike, the return of North Korea to the international stage, and the overwhelming domination of China. On home soil, its athletes won a total of 201 gold medals. They were ahead of Japan (52 titles) and South Korea (42). China topped the medals table for the 11th consecutive time, beating its record number of victories (199), already set in Hangzhou in 2010. India, fourth in the ranking with 28 gold medals, also made a big breakthrough. Vinod Kumar Tiwari, Acting Director General of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), had this to say: “Technically, this has been one of the most successful Asian Games ever. Athletically, they reached a level rarely approached in the past, with 97 Games records, 26 Asian records and 13 world records.” The next Asian Games will be held in 2026 in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture and its capital Nagoya. The Japanese organisers had planned not to build an athletes’ village, to cut costs. But according to several sources, they have revised their plans at the request of the OCA. A Games village will indeed be built, but on a smaller scale.