Raft of events cut from 2018 Asian Games programme

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has announced that the number of events scheduled for next year’s Asian Games will be reduced from 493 to 431 amid efforts to ease the strain on the multi-sport showpiece’s Indonesian hosts.

The announcement came following a meeting between OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah and Indonesia’s Vice-President and chairman of the 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang 2018 Steering Committee, Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, in Jakarta.

During the meeting, the OCA and 2018 Asian Games organising committee, INASGOC, agreed to reduce the number of events from 493 to 431 – six fewer than the 437 events that were held at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

The OCA has not disclosed the precise make-up of which sports and events will be cut from the 2018 Games schedule, but cricket, skateboarding, sambo and surfing are reported to have been removed entirely. The latter three sports were due to make their full Asian Games debuts next year.

In addition, the inclusion of equestrian in the sports programme has been put on hold until the Asian Equestrian Federation elects its president by August 18, 2017 – a minimum of one year before the 18th Asian Games. Sheikh Ahmad (pictured) said: “I would like to thank the President of Indonesia, HE Joko Widodo, for his support and efforts to host a successful Asian Games in 2018.

“I would also like to thank HE Jusuf Kalla for meeting us during his busy schedule. We had a fruitful meeting with many positive outcomes. In compliance with Olympic Agenda 2020, OCA and INASGOC have agreed to reduce our 2018 Asian Games to 431 events.

“OCA and INASGOC will work hand-in-hand to create another cost-effective Asian Games model, but a highly successful one.”

The OCA last month said Indonesia faces “huge” challenges ahead of the 2018 Asian Games. Following a visit to the country to check on preparations, OCA director general Husain Al-Musallam said that there had been some progress, particularly in the city of Palembang, which will co-host the event with Jakarta.

However, with Jakarta having only been awarded the Games in 2014 after the original host, Vietnam, withdrew, organisers are facing a race against time to be ready for the event.

The Games will take place from August 18 to September 2 next year. Indonesia last staged the event in 1962.