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Chaotic run-up to Asian Games stresses out athletes

Aug 07,2018
There’s less than two weeks remaining until the opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, but Korea’s schedule is still getting last-minute changes.

Originally, Vietnam won the bid to host the event, but the country announced its withdrawal in April 2014. Indonesia was then approved as the host of the 2018 Asian Games. Once Indonesia was chosen to host the Asian Games, the date of the event was rescheduled from 2019 to 2018 due to the 2019 Indonesian presidential election.

Though the change was made to accommodate Indonesia, the limited preparation time has caused a number of troubles as the Games approach.

For the first time in Asian Games history, men’s football went through three different draws for the group matches. After the original draw on July 5, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) realized that two countries - the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Palestine - were not included in the original draw. The AFC conducted a redraw on July 25, and Korea was assigned to a five-nation group along with Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Bahrain and the UAE. Since the redraw led Korea to be assigned to a group of five rather than four, the country was given a tighter schedule than most other teams and would have to play four matches in nine days.

But this still wasn’t the final draw. As Iraq decided to withdraw from the event, the groups had to be reassigned once again, and the UAE was moved to Group C. This allowed Korea to have a lighter schedule.

The shooting team is also having trouble getting ready for the Games. Originally, the Korean shooting team was scheduled to leave for Palembang, Indonesia on July 20. However, they are still training in Korea as their Indonesian training was canceled a week before their departure due to incomplete construction at the shooting range.

“To adjust to the conditions [in Indonesia], we are training without air conditioning,” said Yoon Duk-ha, the head coach of the Korean shooting team.

Clay shooting is facing even more trouble. Since the shotgun shells used in clay shooting are heavy, they are usually bought at the tournament site. But the organizing committee asked participating countries to bring their shells separately, so they will have to find a way to fly with the heavy shells to Indonesia.

The Koreans men’s basketball team also had their games rescheduled. They were scheduled to compete in their first match on Aug. 19, but this was changed to Aug. 14 against Indonesia. Then, on Aug. 19, Korea will compete against Mongolia and will play Thailand on Aug. 24. Since they are playing a game every five days, the coaching staff is considered that the players’ breaks between games will be too long.

“In 3-on-3 basketball, the participating countries and schedule are still undecided,” said a source close to the Korea Basketball Association.

While the athletes are facing difficulty with their schedule, boxer Kim Hyeong-kyu has lost his spot to compete at this year’s Asian Games, as the organizing committee dropped heavyweight boxing from the list of competitions earlier this year. Canoeists and gymnasts still don’t have an official schedule for their events.

BY PARK RIN [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]