New Delhi, Sep 18 (UNI) Cricket, the sporting passion of the South Asian countries, will make its debut albeit in Twenty20 format in the 201O Asian Games at Guangzhou in China.
Cricket, along with four other disciplines -- Dance Sport, Dragon Oat, roller sport and Weiqi -- have been included for the first time in the 16h edition of the Games.
Making this annoucement here today, Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) General Secretary Randhir Singh said with the three World Cup winners -- India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- and another Test-playing nation Bangaldesh taking part in the event at the Asiad it was bound to be a spectacular show at Guangzhou.
He said the proposal to include cricket in the Asian Games was approved at the OCA General Assembly in Kuwait earlier this year and ''has brought delight to millions of cricket fans right across Asia.'' OCA General Secretary, however, did not agree to a view that cricket may overshadow other disciplines in the Games saying, ''Asiad is too big to be confined to a single discipline.'' Director of Publicity of Guangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (GAGOC) Luo Jingjun, who also addressed the media, said more than 14,000 athletes and officials from 45 countries will take part in the sporting extravaganza.
He said the city is renovating 78 sports facilities and is going ahead with its plan to build a new Games village, media centre and 12 new stadiums.
Jingjun said the city will soon start development of rail transport and ''intelligent'' transport to bring the Asian Games village to about a 30-minute distance of all competition venues.
The main theme of the 11th Asiad is ''Thrilling Games -- Harmonious Games'', he said adding that Guangzhou was the right place for this continental sporting showpiece.
The region, he claimed, has over 14 per cent annual GDP growth rate and is one of the fastest growing areas in China.
The Games will be an event that will leave a postive and lasting legacy to the citizens and visitors for years to come, he added.
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Chief Suresh Kalmadi, who was present at the media conference, hailed China's progress in the field of sports.
''China has set very high standards in the sporting arena and as Asians made us proud but also made other countries of the continent aware that they can also achieve such standards with hard work,'' he said.