Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Asian Games in China Were a Big Deal. Why Westerners Didn't Hear Much about Them

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Asian Games in China Were a Big Deal. Why Westerners Didn't Hear Much about Them

Article excerpt

Though far more athletes competed at the Asian Games, India's Commonwealth Games were seen as an international debut similar to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Asian Games that wrapped up Saturday in Guangzhou, China, drew 9,700 competitors - showcasing the host country's logistical finesse, as well as its stellar athletes. In particular, hurdler Liu Xiang redeemed his injury-marred appearance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a gold medal in Guangzhou.

But while its athletes basked in victory, China enjoyed little of the global attention it garnered as the stunning host of the Olympic Games two years ago. Instead, it was India - who just a month before hosted the Commonwealth Games - who found itself in the spotlight.

The Commonwealth Games represented modern India's debut on the global stage. The country had never hosted such a large international event, and New Delhi approached the opportunity as a chance to show off its rapidly growing economy.

But there are other reasons, too, that explain why the Commonwealth Games overshadowed China's show - even though the Asian games are described as one of the largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.

While China's ability to pull off meticulous orchestration of everything from an incredible opening ceremony to the construction of new venues was not much in doubt, India's public sector is notorious for missing deadlines. This, together with a threat of violence at the Commonwealth Games, gave the press - uncensored, mind you, in India - plenty to delve into.

East vs. West

The presence of athletes from rich, English-speaking countries like Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom ensured heavy coverage in the influential press from those countries. Asian nations have few news organizations that are globally followed, partly because they are not primarily published in the lingua franca of English.

Additionally, more entities sent athletes to New Delhi than Guangzhou. The Commonwealth Games involved 71 countries and dependencies, while the Asian Games brought together 45 countries. That said, more athletes overall competed in China (some 9,700) than in India (some 6,000). …

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