2017 Asian Winter Games
|Host city||Sapporo, Japan|
|Motto||Beyond Your Ambitions (世界につながる、冬にする Sekai ni tsunagaru, fuyu ni suru)|
|Events||64 in 11 sports|
|Opening ceremony||February 19|
|Closing ceremony||February 26|
|Officially opened by||
Crown Prince of Japan
|Torch lighter||Masahiko Harada|
|Main venue||Sapporo Dome|
|Part of a series on|
The 2017 Asian Winter Games was the 8th edition of the Asian Winter Games. They were hosted in Sapporo and Obihiro, Japan. These Games were originally scheduled for 2015, however, in the Olympic Council of Asia's general assembly in Singapore on 3 July 2009, the committee decided to move the Games to one year before the Winter Olympics moving forward. The games began on 19 February with the opening ceremony (the curling and hockey events begin the day before) and ended with the closing ceremony on 26 February.
Sapporo and Obihiro were named as the host cities on January 31, 2011, as the sole bidding cities. The hosting contract was signed by Tsunekazu Takeda, the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee. It will be the third time that Sapporo will host the event and fourth time in Japan. Previously the city held the two first editions of the Games in 1986 and 1990. Before hosting the first Asian Winter Games, the city was also the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics and the 1991 Winter Universiade.
On 31 January 2011, Sapporo was awarded the right to host the Games. The decision was announced at the OCA's general assembly during the 2011 Asian Winter Games in Astana, Kazakhstan. The bid was announced by Mayor Fumio Ueda on 15 January 2011, with no other bidding city. The total cost is expected to be ¥3.5 billion.
Development and preparation
- Athletes village
- Main Media Center
The Main Media Center (MMC) housed both the International Broadcasting Center (IBC) and the Main Press Center (MPC). These were housed at the Sapporo Convention Center.
- Competition venues
A total of 13 venues were scheduled to be used for the games. Some of the venues were also used during the 1972 Winter Olympics. All venues were located within the Sapporo region, except the speed skating venue which was in Obihiro.
|Sapporo Dome||Opening Ceremony|
|Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium||Ski Jumping|
|Miyanomori Ski Jump Stadium|
|Shirahatayama Open Stadium||Cross Country Skiing|
|Sapporo Teine||Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding|
|Sapporo Bankei Ski Area||Freestyle Skiing, Snowboarding|
|Nishioka Biathlon Stadium||Biathlon|
|Hoshioki Ice Skating Rink|
|Sapporo Curling Stadium||Curling|
|Obihiro Forest Speed Skating Oval||Speed Skating|
|Makomanai Ice Arena||Figure Skating, Short Track Speed Skating, Closing Ceremony|
The medal design was revealed on December 21, 2016. The medals were cut using diamonds and the three stars on them are curved to look like ice. The three stars are meant to represent athletes as "Stars of Hope". The diamond-cut surface is also meant to represent the fresh air in the winter along with the snow and ice seen across Hokkaido. The medals are 55 millimetres (2.2 in) in diameter and 4.5 millimetres (0.18 in) thick. The three kind of medals also weight differently, with the gold (109.1 grams (3.85 oz)) weighing the most, followed by silver (107.1 grams (3.78 oz)) and finally bronze (87.9 grams (3.10 oz)).
The pre-sale of tickets for select events and the opening ceremony started on September 12, 2016, while tickets went on general sale for all events on November 14, 2016. Alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboard parallel events, speed skating and the third division of the men's hockey tournament were free admission. Tickets start around ¥500. The most expensive tickets at ¥9,000 are to the closing ceremony. With a month to go till the start of the games, only 30% of tickets were sold. The only event to be sold out at that time was the men's halfpipe competition in snowboarding, which resulted in more tickets being released for the event.
The torch was lit on February 5 at the Sapporo Snow Festival being held at the Odori Park located in central Sapporo. The ceremony involved representants of the Ainu people, indigenous to the Northern part of Japan. The relay in itself only lasted one day (on February 6), with the closing of the day seeing the Kamuinomi, which is a ritual of the Ainu people. The ritual involved praying for the success of all the athletes taking part in the games. From February 7 to the 17th, the flame be split and then displayed at the City Halls of both Sapporo and Obihiro, as well as the 10 ward offices of Sapporo. The flame lit at the Opening Ceremony was transferred to Sapporo City Hall and displayed in the 1972 Winter Olympics Cauldron,until the hours before the Closing Ceremony, on February 26.
The opening ceremony of the games took place on 19 February at the Sapporo Dome. The show included a performance by Japanese pop band Dreams Come True. Included in this ceremony is the traditional parade of nations and lighting of the cauldron. The ceremony have innovative factors as the time, two awards ceremonies and the cultural parts.
The closing ceremony of the games took place on 26 February at the conclusion of the men's free program of figure skating. The ceremony was held at the Makomanai Ice Arena and also included an exhibition gala by some of the figure skaters who took part in competition.
64 events across 11 winter sport disciplines, were scheduled in the 2017 Asian Winter Games program. The three skating sports are figure skating, speed skating, and short track speed skating. The five skiing sports are alpine, cross-country, freestyle, ski jumping, and snowboarding. The other three sports are biathlon, curling and ice hockey. The two bobsleigh disciplines of bobsleigh and skeleton, luge and Nordic combined (all Olympic disciplines) are not scheduled to be held, nor is bandy, which was on the programme in the last games in 2011.
Numbers in parentheses indicate the number of medal events contested in each sports discipline.
Participating National Olympic Committees
32 NOCs (including the two invited Oceania NOCs) competed. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan and Vietnam made their debuts. Three additional countries were scheduled to participate: Afghanistan (did not submit entries by the deadline), Cambodia and Iraq (were not members of the International Skating Union, and thus their application to participate was rejected).
After competing at the last edition of the games, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Palestine did not compete here. On the other hand, after missing the last edition, both Macau and Pakistan competed here. Bahrain originally entered a men's ice hockey team but later withdrew, after the government did not approve of the expense of sending the team to the games, amidst a drop in oil prices.
In September 2016, it was announced athletes from Oceania were invited to compete. Countries from Oceania are however listed separately as they are not deemed as official competitors, but are considered as invited guest athletes (therefore they are not eligible for medals).
The Kuwait Olympic Committee was suspended in October 2015, due to political interference. Therefore, the athletes from the country is scheduled to compete under the Olympic flag as Independent Olympic Athletes.
The numbers in parenthesis represents the number of participants entered.
|Participating National Olympic Committees|
|OC||Opening ceremony||●||Event competitions||1||Event finals||CC||Closing ceremony|
|Totals (5 nations)||64||64||64||192|
The official mascot of the 2017 Asian Winter Games is named Ezomon. Ezomon is modeled after a very special type of flying squirrel only found in the Hokkaido region of Japan. Ezomon sports a red scarf and a blue cape with the logo of the 2017 Asian Winter Games on it.
|Sponsors of the 2017 Asian Winter Games|
Concerns and controversies
One of the athletes hotels is the APA Hotel in Sapporo. The founder and president of this hotel chain, Toshio Motoya, who is a strong supporter of political and historical view aligned with those of Japan's right wing. For example, Motoya claimed that "Japanese aggression, the Nanking Massacre, and comfort women" were "fabricated stories" or "fictitious". His book is available in each of the guest rooms at the hotel. This created controversy, particularly in China, which caused the games organizers to ask the hotel to take appropriate actions and remove them from guest rooms. The Organizing Committee will gain exclusive access over the hotel from February 12, and an organization committee official said, "we can decide what is removed and placed in the guest rooms so that we don’t place any items that offend athletes, from not only China, but also any other nation”. Eventually both South Korea and China requested that their athletes stay at a different hotel, and the organizing committee obliged by changing their accommodations to the Sapporo Prince Hotel.
This event is being held around World and other major championships of some of the sports being contested. Included in this is the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 2017 being held in St. Moritz, Switzerland, till the 19th of February (the opening of the games). Due to this some teams including among others Lebanon, have decided to not send their best team. The FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2017 in Lahti, Finland will also happen during the games (between February 22 and March 5) which has caused Iran to not send a cross-country skiing team at all. Also, the reason cited for low ticket sales, is that many top athletes chose to focus on the world championships of their various disciplines.
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