Incheon ready to showcase cream of Asian sports

Mon Sep 8, 2014 3:20am EDT
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By Peter Rutherford

SEOUL (Reuters) - An array of Olympians and stars of sports niche and new arrive in the South Korean city of Incheon for the 17th Asian Games this month, bringing together some 10,000 athletes for a 16-day multi-sport spectacular second only in scale to the Summer Olympics.

From weightlifting to wushu, rowing to rugby sevens and swimming to sepaktakraw, the Games will showcase elite Asian talent in 28 Olympic and eight non-Olympic sports from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, with a total of 439 gold medals up for grabs.

While China are certainties to top the medal count for the ninth straight Games, South Korea have set an ambitious target of 90 golds, though the hosts would probably settle for less as long as they finish above fierce rivals Japan.

India, perennial underachievers in world sport, are determined to improve on the 14 golds they won four years ago in Guangzhou, while Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand will battle it out for bragging rights in Southeast Asia.

Four years on from Guangzhou's glitzy Games, which by some estimates left the city in debt to the tune of $32 billion, South Korea has spent a reported 1.2 trillion won ($1.2 billion) on construction costs to host the event for a third time.

Operational costs are expected to run to 480 billion won.

The huge costs of hosting the multi-sports event may make countries think twice about bidding for future Games.

Vietnam quit as 2019 hosts amid concerns it would not prove financially viable. India and Malaysia both decided against throwing their hats into the ring to host the event, citing financial concerns.   Continued...

South Korean firefighters take part in an anti-terror drill ahead of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium in Incheon August 6, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji