Oceania set for Asiad:

Sports | 5 Mar 2019

Oceania nations, including sporting powerhouse Australia, have been invited to compete in Olympic team events such as football and basketball at the 2022 Asian Games for the first time.

The decision came at a meeting of the Olympic Council of Asia in Bangkok, with Australia welcoming the move as "a very positive outcome".

"Australia is very grateful for this opportunity and there will be enormous interest from our Oceania neighbors," said Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates. "This is something I have been pursuing for more than 20 years."

The invitation to the Games in Hangzhou, China, is limited to volleyball, beach volleyball, basketball and football and fencing, ruling out sports such as swimming and track cycling which Australia would be expected to dominate.

It culminates a long Australian-led drive for stronger ties with the OCA. "This has been quite a journey that ultimately will benefit athletes in this region," added Coates.

Oceania - Australia, New Zealand and a swathe of Pacific islands - has not taken part in the regional Olympics before, but sporting ties with Asia have been growing.

Australia has been a member of the Asian Football Confederation since 2006, and previously took part in the East Asian Games in Osaka in 2001 and the 2017 Asian Winter Games in Sapporo.

With 35 sports and 10,000 athletes competing, the Asian Games is second only to the Olympics as a global multi-sport event.

Coates said the number of Australian athletes competing in 2022 would likely be contained.

"There's a cap of 10,000 athletes for these Games so there will need to be some decisions made along the way about which Australian men's and women's teams will compete," he said.

"But the critical thing is our place is confirmed for Hangzhou 2022 and that's a very positive outcome for us."

Cricket, meanwhile, will be back in the program for Hangzhou 2022.

The sport featured in Guangzhou 2010 and Incheon 2014, with competitions for both men's and women.

The Board of Cricket Control in India did not allow its teams to participate in 2010 and 2014, blaming a packed international schedule, but the Indian Olympic Association were hopeful they would be able to convince the board for 2022.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait was unanimously reelected president of the OCA for an eighth term despite being embroiled in a forgery case brought by Swiss investigators.

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