Asian Games: Indonesia to host Asiad in 2018

INCHEON, South Korea - The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) executive board on Friday approved Indonesia as hosts for the 2018 Asian Games which faces a growing battle to find venues because of the cost.

The continent's sports leaders had to find a quick replacement after Vietnam said in April that it could no longer afford to stage the next Asian Games.

"Today it has been approved by the EB (executive board) that in 2018 will be the next Asian Games in Jakarta in Indonesia," said council president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

"I hope tomorrow also the (OCA) general assembly will approve the final resolution although we have the power because the extraordinary general assembly in Kuwait gave the president the authority to decide and find the replacement to Vietnam," he added.

The OCA executive met in Incheon, South Korea, ahead of the official opening of the 17th Asian Games later on Friday.

The world's biggest multi-sport event after the Olympics will this year feature 13,000 athletes, coaches and officials from 45 nations across 36 sports.

Vietnam had originally been picked to host the 18th Games in 2019, but withdrew blaming fallout from an economic crisis.

Indonesia immediately became favourites to take on the showpiece event, saying it would be "proud" to step up.

The OCA initially scheduled the event for 2019 to make it one year before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

But Jakarta told the OCA that it they were to host the Asiad, usually a quadrennial tournament, it would have to be a year earlier, in 2018, because presidential elections were scheduled for 2019.

Sheikh Ahmad added no decision has been taken on whether the 19th Games would revert to it's original slot of 2023 or come a year earlier on 2022 following the Indonesia switch.

"After the General Assembly we will have the time to discuss whether the (19th Asiad) will be in 2022 or 2023," the OCA president told a small group of reporters.

He also refused to be drawn on the exact number of sports that may take part but said the OCA would not revert to the 42 disciplines which were competed for in Guangzhou four years ago.

"We have to be in this balance. We don't have to go back to the 42. We have to be 36, 37, 35, depending on the General Assembly. The programme will be decided by the General Assembly."

Indonesian officials earlier had suggested the games could be staged in the country's second-biggest city Surabaya.

Surabaya was in November 2012 pipped by Hanoi to be the host after Dubai in the United Arab Emirates pulled out just before the vote.

The victory sparked celebrations among Vietnamese officials, who said the decision would unlock millions of dollars in infrastructure investment.

But with its economy in crisis, a decaying sports infrastructure and an uninspiring athletics record, public sentiment never swung behind the official campaign.

Officials said hosting the 18th Asian Games could cost some $150 million and would require the construction of new sporting stadiums and an athletes' village.

But experts have said the real cost of the games, which were scheduled to run for 16 days, would have been far higher.

Indonesia built new sporting facilities in 2011 to host the Southeast Asian Games. Southeast Asia's biggest nation staged the Asian Games once before, in Jakarta in 1962.