1951 – Free India Hosts Maiden Asian Games Edition
The first-ever Asian Games began in New Delhi on 4 March 1951 – more than 60 years ago. Eleven countries participated in the weeklong event, and a total of 489 athletes competed in 57 events in eight sports and disciplines.
South Korea did not participate, however, due to the Korean War, which had started the previous year and would last until 1953.
With 15 gold medals and 51 total medals, India stood second in the final medal tally (after Japan) amongst the eight participating nations.
Japan, although not invited to the meetings in London (1948) or Patiala House (1949), was invited to these Games and sent in a 72-member strong delegation, which won 24 gold medals.
And some of the stories of Indian sportsmen’s exploits became legend.
India won the gold – playing barefoot– after a close football final with Asian heavyweights Iran, which revived the sport in the country.
India’s Lavy Pinto became the only participant to win gold medals in multiple sprints (athletics). And Parimal Roy was awarded ‘Mr Asia 1951’ for the best physique.
1954 – Japan Tops Medal Tally at 2nd Asiad Edition
Philippines hosted the second edition of the Asian Games in 1954. President Ramon Magsaysay formally opened the games at Manila’s Rizal Memorial Stadium.
12 nations participated in this edition which was held over eight days in two stadiums of Manila.
A total of 970 athletes from 19 National Olympic Committees competed in eight sports. The edition was known for introducing pointing system rather than a medal tally system which was criticised and discontinued afterwards.
Once again, Japan topped the medal table with 38 gold, 36 silver and 24 bronze. India ended up at rank 5 with 4 gold medals.
1958 – Tokyo Hosts Volume 3 of Asiad
The third edition of Asiad took place in the Japanese capital city of Tokyo and was held under the aegis of the Asian Games Federation.
A total of 1,820 athletes representing 20 Asian National Olympic Committees (NOCs) competed in this Asiad. The ceremonial lighting of the Asian Games Torch was introduced as a new tradition in 1958.
Athletics, aquatic (swimming, diving, and water polo), basketball, bicycles (highways and tracks) were among the featured sports’ categories.
The host nation continued its winning streak with 67 medals. India stood at number 7 with a total of 14 medals.
1962 – Host Jakarta Bars Delegations From Israel, Taiwan
Jakarta, as first-time hosts played a crucial role in the 1962 Asian Games. The Indonesian Government refused to issue visas to the delegations from Israel and Taiwan on account of pressure from the Arab nations.
Despite, the politics playing a role in this edition, the Indonesian President Sukarno opened the game infront of close to 1,400 athletes at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
Japan climbed to the top of the medal tally in 13 featured sports categories, where badminton made its debut. With 12 gold, 13 silver and 27 bronze medals, India gained a better ranking at number 3.
1966 – Bangkok Hosts its Maiden Asian Games Event
The 1966 Asian Games was held from December 9 – 20 in Bangkok after have been given a royal nod by the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The fifth edition marked the return of Taiwan and Israel to the Games. A total number of 1,945 athletes from 16 countries contested for 454 medals in the event.
Women’s volleyball made its debut as one of 14 sports categories.
Japan added 164 medals to its kitty with the most number of golds. At number 5 was India with 21 medals.
1970 – Bangkok Hosts in Succession
The 1970 Asian Games were hosted by Bangkok in succession. The capital city of Thailand was chosen in place of South Korea who dropped their bid in wake of financial crisis and security threats.
Over 2,400 athletes from 18 countries competed for 423 medals. Indian athletes finished at the fifth position in the medal’s table with a total of 25 medals.
1974 – Asian Games Enters the Middle East
The Asian Games entered the Middle Eastern territory with Iran hosting the games for the first time since the first edition in 1951. The Aryamehr sports complex was built for the Games in the capital city of Tehran.
The edition hosted over 3,000 athletes from 25 countries, known to be the highest since 1951. It was also recognised for using ‘state-of-the-art technology’ at the edition. Fencing, gymnastics and women’s basketball were sports categories that were added to the current sports categories.
Japan continued its winning spree with the most number of medals with 75 gold, 49 silver and 51 bronze. India won overall 28 medals, finishing seventh in a medal table.
1978 – Thailand Scores a Hatrick
Thailand scored a hatrick by being the hosts for three times, outdoing Singapore chosen as the original hosts for the 8th Asian Games in the city of Bangkok.
This edition was marred by political tensions. Pakistan was chosen as the substitute for Singapore, which had to back out on account of financial reasons. But Pakistan withdrew participation due its conflict with Bangladesh. Moreover, Israel wasn’t allowed to play in the Games.
Raja Bhumibol Adulyadej officially opened the third third Asian Games at Suphachalasai Stadium infront of a total of 3,842 athletes, coming from 25 NOCs.
Archery and bowling were debuting sports. India ranked 5th with 13 gold medals, 19 silver medals and 25 bronze medals.
1982- India Returns as Host
Marking its return as hosts for the second time, India hosted the ninth edition of the games in 1982. Among 21 sports categories, handball, horse riding, rowing and golf were debutants at the event but bowling and fencing were excluded.
The games were memorable for many reasons, including the introduction of colour television in India that broadcast the games live. In addition, the Games introduced a mascot for the first time. But this edition commenced the era of Chinese domination in the Asian Games medals tally.
The 1982 edition held under the aegis of Olympic Council of Asia. President Zail opened the games at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with PT Usha reading the athlete’s oath.
1986 – South Korean Capital Hosts 10th Edition
Over 4,800 athletes competed for 848 medals in the 10th edition of the event held from September 20 – October 5, 1986 in Seoul, South Korea. Olympics President Chun Doo-hwan attended the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, Seoul.
There were 24 sports, including archery, horse riding, fencing, handball, judo and rowing. The edition acted as a test edition for the Summer
Making their debut were women’s cycling, judo, women’s shooting and taekwondo. 83 With over 83 Asian records and three world records broken, the edition was known for displaying immense excellence.
Making her presence felt globally was India’s PT Usha, who clinched four gold medals and one silver to make her the most successful track and field athlete at the games.
Afghanistan, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, North Korea, South Yemen, Syria and Vietnam – had to boycott the Games due to simmering political tensions.
China once again topped the medal table while South Korea finished second ahead of Japan. Hodori, a tiger cub, served as the official mascot of both the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Olympics.
1990 – China Hosts Maiden Large-Scale Sports Event
The eleventh edition of Asian Games was held in the dragon city of Beijing from September 22 – October 7, 1990. In the first-ever large scale event hosted by China, a total of 6,122 athletes from 36 NOCs participated in 27 sports.
Categories such as canoeing, kabaddi, sepak takraw, softball, wushu made their debut while Baseball and soft tennis were demonstration sports.
The Chinese president Yang Shangkun attended the opening ceremony at the Workers Stadium in Beijing. PanPan, a panda, was the mascot for this edition.
China topped the medal table with 183 gold, 107 silver and 51 bronze. India clinched over a gold, 8 silver and 14 bronze medals taking its total to 23 over-all medals.
1994 – Japan Plays Hosts to Promote ‘Asian Harmony’
With an aim to promote peace and harmony among Asian nations, Japan hosted the 12th edition of the Asian Games in Hiroshima in October 1994. As a mark of solidarity, the Japanese hosts chose the site of the first atomic bombings of 1945 with Emperor Akihito inaugurating it at the Hiroshima Big Arch.
The event was graced by over 6,800 athletes and officials from 42 countries and competed for 1,079 medals provided. Iran was conspicuous by its absence since the timing coincided with the 1991 Gulf War.
China topped the medal table with 125 gold, 83 silver and 58 bronze. India ranked 8th with a total of 22 medals.
1998 – Bangkok Wins Hosting Rights 4 Times in a Row
The XIII Asian Games were held from 6 to 20 December 1998 in Thailand. Bangkok beat other competitors to win the hosting rights for the fourth time, having previously hosted games in 1966, 1970 and 1978. This was the maiden Asian Games edition which underwent through the bidding process.
Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej officially inaugurated the games at the Rajamangala National Stadium.
A total of 6,554 athletes from 41 National Olympic Committees participated in the Games. competing in 36 sports, including canoeing, kabaddi, sepak takraw and squash.
China topped the medal table with 129 gold, 78 silver and 67 bronze. Its neighbour, India ranked 9th with 7 gold, 11 silver and 17 bronze medals.
2002 – South Korea Plays Host For 2nd Time
Busan, became the second South Korean city to host the Games in 2002, following the footsteps of 1986 hosts Seoul. The multi-sport event witnessed the participation of over 6,572 athletes from 44 countries in over 38 sport categories.
Rival nation North Korea sent its delegation to the Games. Afghanistan, also made its return to the Games for the first time after the Taliban took over in 1996.
It was opened by President of South Korea, Kim Dae-jung, at the Busan Asiad Main Stadium. Duria, a seagull, served as the Games’ mascot.
Continuing its winning streak, China topped the medal table with 150 gold, 84 silver and 74 bronze. Moving up from the medal’s tally by a notch, India ranked 8th with 10 gold medals.
2006 – 15th Edition Hosted in Doha
Staged in Doha, Qatar, the 15th edition of the Asian Games drew more than 9,000 athletes from 45 nations to compete across 39 sports’ disciplines. Following the footsteps of Tehran who hosted the games in 1974, Doha became the second nation in West Asia to host the games.
This was a maiden event when all member nations of the Olympic Council of Asia took part. But the games also witnessed the unfortunate demise of the South Korean equestrian rider Kim Hyung-chil in a fatal accident during the competition.
The medal tally was led by China followed by South Korea and Japan. The host bagged the 9th place in the games. India ranked 8th with 10 gold medals.
2010 – Asian Games Hosted in Chinese city of Guangzhou
The 2010 Asian Games was hosted by the city of Guangzhou in China. The sixteenth edition of the multi-sport event was held from 12 to 27 November 2010. After Beijing in 1990, Guangzhou became the second place in China to host the continental event. Host China won the maximum medals and set a new Games record with 199 gold medals.
South Korea and Japan took the next two places in the medal tally. With 65 medals, India were sixth on the medal tally which included 14 Gold, 17 Silver and 34 Bronze.
2014 – 17th Asian Games Held in the South Korean city of Incheon
The 17th Asian Games were held in Incheon in South Korea in 2014. Incheon was the third city in South Korea after Seoul (1986) and Busan (2002). The multi-sport event was held from 19 September to 4 October 2014. Around 9,501 athletes participated in the event which featured 439 events in 36 sports.
The final medal tally was led by China, followed by host South Korea and Japan. India finished the games at the eight position on the medals tally with 11 Gold, 9 Silver and 37 Bronze.
The first-ever Asian Games began in New Delhi on 4 March 1951 – more than 60 years ago. Eleven countries participated in the week-long event, and a total of 489 athletes competed in 57 events in eight sports and disciplines.
Let us revisit the history of Asian Games right from 1951 to 2014: