IOC's Bach sees 'shift in sport towards Asia'
HANGZHOU, China, Sept 23, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - IOC president Thomas Bach forecast a "shift in the world towards Asia in sport", ahead of Saturday's Asian Games opening ceremony.
The International Olympic Committee chief visited athletes in Hangzhou after meeting Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who vowed to work with the IOC on upholding the "non-politicisation" of sport.
That meeting came as a diplomatic row erupted between Beijing and New Delhi over three Indian athletes who have not made the Games because of visa issues.
Bach said the biggest-ever Asiad, which will be officially opened later Saturday by Xi, would "set new standards in many different respects".
"We have here a great number of new sports, we see an organisation which is making use of all the digital expertise which China and Hangzhou has to offer," he said.
More than 12,000 athletes from 45 countries and territories are taking part in Hangzhou, making it bigger than the Olympics.
Bach acknowledged China's growing importance to the Olympic movement.
Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Games and 2022 Winter Olympics, albeit in a Covid-secure "bubble".
"The cooperation with the Chinese Olympic Committee is going very well and in many international federations China is playing an ever growing and more important role," he told Xinhua.
"This is greatly appreciated because we see an overall shift in the world towards Asia in sport."