Which was the first country to host Asian Games?

Which was the first country to host Asian Games?
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The Asian Games is, undoubtedly, the biggest multi-sport event in the continent of Asia.

Started in 1951, the continental showpiece has already seen 18 editions. The Asian Games 2022, the 19th edition, will be held in Hangzhou, China later this year.

India were the first country to host the Asian Games with the capital city of New Delhi staging the 1951 Games.

The Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, popularly known as the National Stadium, was the venue for all the events at the Asian Games 1951.

A total of 489 athletes from 11 nations — Afghanistan, Burma (present-day Myanmar), Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka), Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and hosts India — participated in the inaugural edition to contest in 57 medal events.

Japan topped the medals table at the first Asian Games with 60 medals followed by hosts India with 51.

The 1951 Asian Games were scheduled to be held in 1950 but were postponed due to delay in preparations. The second edition was held in Manila in the Philippines in 1954 and since then the event has been hosted every four years without fail, making it a quadrennial showpiece.

Interestingly, the Asian Games was a successor to the Far Eastern Championship Games, also known as the Oriental Olympics, which were held from 1913 to 1934.

With more and more Asian countries becoming sovereign after the Second World War, the case for a continental sporting event or a possible revival of the defunct Far Eastern Championship Games was realised.

The idea gained momentum after it was discussed during the Asian Relations Conference, an assembly of representatives from almost all Asian nations, hosted in New Delhi in 1947, shortly before India’s independence.

Jawaharlal Nehru, who would go on to become the first Prime Minister of India, led the summit while prominent Indian poet and political activist Sarojini Naidu presided over the event.

On the sidelines of the 1948 Olympics in London, the Asian Games Federation (AGF) was formed under the leadership of Indian Olympic Committee representative Guru Dutt Sondhi, an eminent sports administrator. The organisation undertook the task of organising the first-ever Asian Games.

The AGF was in charge of organising the Asian Games till the 1978 Asiad before the torch passed to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). Recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Asian Games is often described as the second-largest multi-sport event after the Olympics.

To date, nine different countries have hosted the Asian Games. Having staged four different editions (1966, 1970, 1978 and 1998) Thailand is the only country which has hosted the most number of Asian Games. The Thai capital of Bangkok has hosted all four Games.

South Korea have hosted the Asian Games thrice (1986, 2002 and 2014). Hangzhou 2022, postponed to 2023 because of COVID-19, will also be China’s third time hosting the Games, having previously staged the 1990 and 2010 editions.

India have been hosts on two occasions, the inaugural edition in 1951 and then again in 1982.

The host countries and cities for the 2026, 2030 and 2034 Asian Games have also been decided.

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