OCA President declares Incheon Asiad successful

Olympic Council of Asia President Sheik Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah hailed the Incheon Asian Games a success Saturday and said women's basketball teams at future Asian Games could be allowed to wear hijabs.

OCA President declares Incheon Asiad successful

Incheon: Olympic Council of Asia President Sheik Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah hailed the Incheon Asian Games a success Saturday and said women's basketball teams at future Asian Games could be allowed to wear hijabs.

"I can announce the success of the 17th Asian Games," Sheikh Ahmad told a press conference hours before the closing ceremony, reports Xinhua. "With all the good memories with tears and smiles, this was the concert of the ideals of the Games."

As the final events concluded ahead of the closing ceremony, China topped the medals table for the ninth consecutive time with 151 gold medals, well ahead of the 79 won by host South Korea and the 47 golds that went to Japan. A total of 14 world records along with 27 Asian records were set during the games.

"These numbers show the development of sports in the region," said Sheik Ahmad. "Everybody was satisfied with the success and the level of the games."

The OCA chief dismissed concerns that China's dominance could lead to a lack of interest in the continental sporting event.

"This is not a big worry," said Sheikh Ahmad. "Whoever deserves it will get a medal. I think China's good efforts will encourage athletes from other countries to work harder."

Qatar's women had been asked to remove their head coverings before their opening game against Mongolia last week, but refused to abide by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules banning "headgear, hair accessories and jewellery".

Sheikh Ahmad said that he believes basketball's international governing body will allow women athletes to compete in hijabs.

"I am upset about the hijab," said Sheik Ahmad. "The hijab is related to culture, not religion. It has been approved in all sports on the Olympic program, only basketball (has not).

"There is no reason to reject the hijab, not only for basketball but for any sport."

Regarding the juding controversy in boxing, Sheikh Ahmad said he accepted the apology of Indian Laishram Sarita for not accepting her bronze medal.

"On what happens inside the sports court, it is not our authority to make the final decision; it is the referee's job. Athletes must follow the rules according to the International Boxing Federation and accept their decisions," he said.

"The Indian boxer deserves a better result, but then so do all the other athletes. We cannot give particular athletes certain color medals just because they ask for it."

But Sheikh Ahmad promised a review in boxing will be taken following the games.

"We have received letters from five National Olympic Committees about boxing and we will discuss this with the international federation," he said.

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