| Tavita |
THE next two weeks feature far, far more than boring old sport.
The XVII Asiad, otherwise known as the 2014 Asian Games, is underway. It all started last night in Incheon, South Korea, featuring 45 national teams taking part in 36 sports.
So, what’s on offer?
The latest in a fairly straightforward couple of weeks of sports on show?
A sequel to the Commonwealth Games?
A prequel to whatever continent is lined up for a Games next year?
Don’t you believe it, mate.
According to the organisers, the next two weeks have far more to offer than sixteen days of standard sport to watch.
“Diversity Shines Here” the Games Slogan proclaims.
The bidding’s over. The cost has been costed. The marketing’s all marketed. The venues are all set up. The torch has been relayed and Barame, Vichuon and Chumuro, the three little spotted seal mascots are hopping about and hugging each other.
Never mind your football, your wushu, your track and field and boxing, viewers.
The XVII Asiad will be representing and highlighting the significance of Asia’s “wonderful diversity in history, cultures, and religions”.
It will strip bare your soul.
It will be a truly Asian cultural, artistic and academic festival
To quote Lee Yun-Taek, the president of the XVIIth ASIAD: “We hope the competition will serve as a means to change the perception people all over the world have towards history and sports.”
“We seek to create a mature event that contributes to creating an Asian culture.”
Given that the 21st century is witnessing Asia’s rise as a global economic power, the Organising Committee aim to show that the continent means far more than having lots of money around.
They will be doing all sorts of Asian stuff in a presentation of what they call the true spirit of the “two-thirds of the world’s total population” living in Asia.
They will open the doors to the “Asia era” and strengthen the “friendship and cooperation of the Asian community.”
They will offer “green growth, unique cultures, vastly improved living and welfare standards, state-of-the-art information technologies and low-carbon emitting growth policies.”
As a result, they claim, the Games will be “a festival for all Asians.”
They will reveal “the common identity of Asia.”
It means that the next 15 days leading up to the closing ceremony on October 4 are a serious test for local Sports Watchers.
On trial is our continental identity.
“Just how truly Asian are you?” we are being asked.
Very hard to fathom, I reckon.
Football? Rugby? Swimming? Track and Field? Wrestling? Weightlifting? Tennis? Shooting? Triathlon? Archery? Boxing? Squash…..?
All pretty global, these days.
Even karate and judo and so forth are hardly uniquely Asian now.
There’s only one opportunity I see for us local sports watchers to feel we are “truly Asian”.
It occurs on October 4th , the final night of the Games.
The men’s and women’s kabaddi finals.
- A contact sport based on wrestling.
- Two teams of seven members each occupy opposite halves of a field of 10 m × 13 m. with three supplementary players held in reserve.
- The game is played with 20-minute halves and a five-minute halftime break during which the teams exchange sides.
- The teams take turns sending a “raider” into the other half. To win a point, the raider must take a breath, run into the opposing half, tag one or more members of the opposite team, then return to his home half before inhaling again.
- The raider will chant “kabaddi, kabaddi” with his exhaling breath to show the referee he has not inhaled.
- The old girl’s gone off shopping and left you alone wrestling with the granddaughter when South Africa versus New Zealand’s about to start and the sweet little darling’s in front of the Disney Channel and won’t give up the remote without exhaling her socks off.
- One team of one old man and another of the grandaughter and half a dozen pooh bears, mickey mouses and lego bricks and a couple of dozen supplementary comics, paint brushes and water pistols on opposite ends of a sofa of 0.78 cms. unoccupied space.
- One forty minute first half missed and a further half-hour break waiting for her to fall asleep and drop the remote.
- The object is to nip around the back of the sofa and take the granddaughter by surprise.
- To win a point, you have to grab the remote without inhaling and get back to your own side of the sofa before the granddaughter starts exhaling very, very loudly.
Extremely, very cultural and truly, truly Asian….
At least, in our front room it is!