Preview: 2018 Asian Games Begin With Four Sports Offering Olympic Qualification

The opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games begins tomorrow, setting off one of the largest and arguably most prestigious multi-sport games after the Olympics. The Games contain most of the 2020 Olympic sports (surfing is missing) and non-Olympic sports which include; bowling, bridge, jet ski, kabaddi, martial arts, paragliding, roller sports, sepak takraw and squash. In total, four sports will offer qualification quotas to the Olympics; archery, field hockey, sailing and tennis. The Asian Games are hosted by Indonesia whom will have events held in Jakarta and Palembang. The opening and closing ceremony will be held on August 18th and September 2nd 2018 respectively though some group stage matches for team sports have been occurring since August 10th.

Archery

The nations of the gold medalists of the mixed team recurve and the men’s and women’s individual recurve will qualify to the Olympics. However, despite happening at a later date the 2019 World Archery Championship will have a higher priority so if a nation qualifies through both the Asian Games and World Championships the latter will take priority. Also a nation cannot qualify quotas through both the team and individual events, with the next highest ranked nation (up to the top 4) in the individual event qualifying instead.

Both Oh Jin-hyek and Jung Dasomi of South Korea have returned to defend their gold medals in the men’s and women’s individual events respectively. South Korea will send a very strong team to the Asian Games with men’s individual 2017 world champion Im Dong-hyun and women’s individual 2017 World Championship silver medalist Chang Hye-jin also competing. Chinese Taipei will also send 2017 World Championship medalists to compete with Wei Chun-heng (men’s individual silver medalist) and Tan Ya-ting (women’s individual bronze medalist) present at the games. Given the fact the 2019 World Championship will have a higher priority it is definitely possible that all of the top 4 finishers will be qualified through that method which would reallocate the quotas here to the final qualification tournament.

Field Hockey

The winners of the men’s and women’s tournament will respectively qualify to the Olympics. If Japan wins the tournament the silver medalists will not qualify. Instead the host quota will be reallocated to the Olympic Qualification Events set to be held in 2019.

India, bronze medalists of the 2016-17 World League will be the heavy favourites in the men’s tournament though expect challenges from Malaysia, Pakistan and South Korea. The women’s tournament is expected to be more competitive with China, India and South Korea being the main competitors for gold.

Sailing

The highest ranked eligible nation in the men’s laser and women’s laser radial will qualify to the Olympics. Host Japan, South Korea in the laser and China in the laser radial have already qualified and are therefore not eligible.

After the 2018 Sailing World Championships the quota for these events have opened up as the defending gold medalists, South Korea’s Ha Jee-min and China’s Zhang Dongshuang have already qualified in the men’s laser and women’s laser radial respectively. 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Khairulnizam Afendy of Malaysia was the best performing eligible athlete at the World Championship in the men’s laser while his compatriot Nur Shazrin Latif was the best performing eligible athlete in the women’s laser radial.

Tennis

The gold medalists of the men’s and women’s singles events will qualify provided that they are ranked in the top 300 on the Singles Rankings of June 8th 2020 and that the nation has not reached the maximum quota via direct acceptance through the rankings. Should that not be the case then the next highest ranked athlete will qualify.

The men’s field has been hit with many withdrawals among the top ranked Asian players with currently only one player in the top 100 expected to compete; Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin, ranked 76th in the world. The next highest ranked athlete is India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, ranked 118. The women’s team has been similarly hit by withdrawals though three athletes in the top 100 will compete; the Chinese duo of Zhang Shuai (32) and Wang Qiang (53) and Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum (93). The main reason for the mass withdrawals is due to the players preparing to compete at the US Open, one of four Grand Slams in the calendar year.

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