Qatar hopes Asian Games prove Arab world ready for Olympics
December 21, 2006 1:16am CST
Tiny Qatar's effort to prove that the Arab world is ready to host the Olympics came to a close on Friday as the 15-day Asian Games, the biggest sporting event in the world's most populous continent, wrapped up with an unexpected bonus, the host meeting Iraq in the final of the one event nearly everyone here watches, soccer. Just about everywhere else, however, the games were a celebration of Chinese prowess, and possibly a harbinger of things to come when Beijing hosts the 2008 Olympics. The Chinese claimed 165 of the 428 golds. The closest competitor was South Korea, with just 58, and Japan with 50. "I think the Chinese dominance of the games should serve as an impetus for the rest of us to work harder," conceded Tsutomu Hayashi, the head of the Japanese delegation. "There is much for us to learn." From the track to the pool to the beach volleyball courts, the Chinese demonstrated yet again that they are by far the strongest sports power in Asia, and they did so with an often young team that they are cultivating for the 2008 Olympics. China brought the largest team to the Asian Games,647 athletes. Of those, 413 were participating in their first major multi-sport games and averaged just 23.3 years.