It's Hangzhou's time to shine!
An interview with Vinod Kumar Tiwari, acting director general of OCA and director of OCA International and National Olympic Committee Relations
As an old friend of the Hangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee (HAGOC), Vinod Tiwari, acting director general of the Olympic Council of Asia, has visited Hangzhou many times and forged a deep friendship with the Hangzhou Asian Games people. On the occasion of the opening of Hangzhou Asian Games, he once again received an interview with the Hangzhou Asian Games official magazine, during which he summarized the preparations of all parties and expressed his expectations for the opening of the curtain of Hangzhou Asian Games. He believes that Hangzhou will finally usher in its own shining moment.
Vinod at work.
1.You have visited Hangzhou many times, what's your overall impression of the city?
Yes, I have visited Hangzhou several times, before and after the pandemic, and I have always been very impressed with the city and with its meticulous planning and preparations for the 19th Asian Games.
The competition venues are of Olympic Games standard, providing the best environment for the athletes to produce their best performances. The stadiums will also provide the spectators with a wonderful atmosphere to enjoy the competitions and feel a big part of the Asian Games.
I have been impressed with other aspects, too, especially the related infrastructure such as the Asian Games Village, the Main Media Centre and official hotels.
I really like the concept of the Asian Games Village, with three separate communities for the athletes, media and technical officials. The total capacity is around 20,000. I am sure everyone will enjoy the spacious, modern apartments and clean and green Village lifestyle.
The Main Media Centre is outstanding, with the four exhibition halls accommodating the Main Press Centre, International Broadcast Centre, Host Broadcaster China Media Group and a Life Service Centre for rest and relaxation and other attractions. Once again, this is beyond the Olympic Games standard, and I am sure the media will appreciate and enjoy the excellent working conditions.
Regarding the city overall, I admire the eco-friendly concept of the municipal and provincial authorities. Hangzhou is a very modern city, with gleaming tower blocks showcasing the new, dynamic China, but there is an abundance of parks, trees and colourful flower beds to provide a holistic and rewarding lifestyle.
Vinod with Acting OCA President Raja Randhir Singh (L)
2.The preparations for the Hangzhou Asian Games have reached the final stage. Could you please share your views on behalf of the OCA?
The OCA decision to postpone the 19th Asian Games from September 2022 to the new dates in 2023 is one of the hardest we have ever had to make. The decision was taken, of course, in full consultation with the HAGOC and the Chinese Olympic Committee – and we are absolutely convinced it was the right decision to make at the time.
There were too many uncertainties due to the lingering effects of the global pandemic, but now we can look forward to an open and safe Asian Games for athletes, officials and spectators alike. This is what we all wanted, so it was worth the one-year wait to provide this special Asian Games atmosphere.
Although the OCA could not visit Hangzhou from 2020 to 2022, we had full confidence in the HAGOC to keep the preparations on track. We have known from previous experience working with the Chinese sports authorities that no stone would be left unturned and no shortcuts would be considered in their meticulous planning and preparation.
We are very happy for the HAGOC that all their hard work and dedication will soon come to fruition and that Asia and the world will witness a special Asian Games.
3. At this stage, according to the information available to the OCA, could you please introduce the status of the participating delegations in terms of the preparation for the Asian Games?
The fact that our 45 National Olympic Committees have entered over 12,000 athletes—a new record—is testament to the enthusiasm of the athletes.
We can see from our NOC communications that many athletes have been sent overseas for special training for the Asian Games. These include the likes of smaller NOCs such as Nepal and Cambodia as they try to close the gap between them and the more established powers.
Several other NOCs are sending their largest ever delegations to Hangzhou, while the July 15 entry deadline revealed that six NOCs are sending teams of over 600 athletes. All this proves the growth of the Olympic sports movement in Asia and the desire of all our NOCs to contribute to the success of Hangzhou.
The OCA would also like to congratulate the Chinese aquatics team for winning 20 gold medals – five more than second-placed Australia–at the recent World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. The diving team was out of this world, as usual, winning 12 of the 13 gold medals on offer, while breaststroke swimmer Qin Haiyang won four gold medals, at 50m, 100m and 200m as well as in the mixed 100m medley relay, to become a main attraction in Hangzhou.
Asia also produced several outstanding performances in the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, notably in the field events, so once again this highlights the readiness of the athletes to challenge for more golds in Hangzhou and provide world-class competition and entertainment.
4. As the acting director general of the OCA, what are your expectations for Hangzhou Asian Games and your hopes for seeking more sports cooperation?
The Asian Games in Hangzhou will bring all our 45 National Olympic Committees together and we can expect cooperation and exchange on the sidelines.
The OCA always encourages these agreements between the NOCs in terms of training camps for athletes and sharing of knowledge and experience in other areas as it makes our NOCs stronger both on and off the field of play.
Like all Indians, Vinod is proud of the national cricket team
As for the OCA, we are very excited to be returning to Harbin for our Asian Winter Games (AWG) in 2025, and we are sure the organisers will be observing the Hangzhou Asian Games in order to ensure smooth planning and preparation for the next AWG.
Not only the Asian Olympic sports family will be in Hangzhou, but also the global Olympic movement, too, regarding the International Olympic Committee and International Sport Federations, so there will be many opportunities to make new partnerships or renew and strengthen existing agreements.
Finally, my hopes for the Hangzhou Asian Games are that the Asian sports family can reunite after a five-year break – after the 18thAsian Games in 2018 – and that everyone will enjoy visiting Hangzhou.
We all recognize Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as iconic cities in China – but now it's Hangzhou's time to shine!