Sports in Asia

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Shizuka Arakawa during the Japan Gymnasics Open

Association football (also known as Soccer) is the most popular sport in almost all Asian Countries.[1] Other popular sports in Asia include cricket, baseball, basketball, badminton and table tennis among others.

Association football[edit]

Azadi Stadium in Iran

The Asian Football Confederation was founded in 1954. They organize several tournaments for national teams, most notably the AFC Asian Cup since 1956 and AFC Women's Asian Cup since 1975, as well as qualifying tournaments for the FIFA World Cup, FIFA Women's World Cup and the Summer Olympics. The AFC Champions League is Asia's premier tournament for clubs, first held in 1967.

The AFC members are split into five regional federations: West, Central, South, East and South East. These federations organize regional football championships.

The most successful Asian countries in international men's competitions have been Japan and South Korea in East, and Saudi Arabia and Iran in the West. In women's football, East Asian have been dominant, especially Japan, China and North Korea. Asia has been more successful in women's football than in men's football.

The 2002 FIFA World Cup was hosted jointly by Japan and South Korea. It was the first edition not held in Europe or the Americas. The 2022 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place in Qatar, but it was announced that it could be cancelled for bribery during the bidding process.

The People's Republic of China hosted the first edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991, as well as the 2007 edition.


Nippon Professional Baseball match in Hiroshima

Baseball is most popular sport in Japan, where it was introduced in the 1870s and became professional in the 1920s. The Japanese Baseball League was operated from 1936 to 1949, and reorganized into the Nippon Professional Baseball in 1950. Teams have been historically identified with their corporate owners, not where the team is based, and have often relocated to other cities.

Over 50 Japanese-born players have played in Major League Baseball, including Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui, Koji Uehara and Hideo Nomo.

The Japan national baseball team has won the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic. High school baseball is also popular in Japan.

In South Korea, baseball was introduced in the 1900s and the KBO League was established in 1982. The Taiwan-based Chinese Professional Baseball League was established in 1989. Like the NPB, these two leagues feature teams owned by major corporations.


Basketball is popular all over Asia. FIBA Asia is organized by International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and manages the sport over the region. Major contending nations are China, Japan, The Philippines South Korea.

The Philippines has the best finish in the FIBA World Cup from teams outside the Americas and Europe winning bronze in 1954 FIBA World Championship. Also, the team took a fifth-place finish in 1936 Summer Olympics, the best finish by any team outside the Americas, Europe and Oceania. The Philippines has the most wins in the Olympics among teams outside the Americas, Europe and Oceania.

The FIBA World Cup was held in Asia in 1978 in the Philippines and 2006 in Japan and by 2019, China will host that year's edition.


Boxing is a popular sport in Asia where there is a vast following of professional fights across the region. Its mostly popular in countries such as Japan, The Philippines and South Korea. The Philippines is the most dominant in terms of professional and amateur level with a history of world champions including eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao.


Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar in a cricket test

Cricket is a popular sport in South Asia. Four countries have Test status: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

At the Cricket World Cup, India has won two editions, while Pakistan and Sri Lanka have each won once. At the ICC World Twenty20, three countries have won once. Bangladesh was known to be the weakest of the four teams, having won 7 out of 91 Test matches and 95 out of 309 One Day International matches.But now it making its mark in cricket after winning against the top quality sides in world cricket.

The Asian Cricket Council is a cricket organization which was established in 1983, to promote and develop the sport of cricket in Asia. Membership in the Asian Cricket Council is divided between four Test Status members, seven associate members and eleven affiliate members. Four Asian countries, namely Indonesia, Japan, Philippines and South Korea, are members of ICC East Asia-Pacific instead of the Asian Cricket Council, although Indonesia has applied for membership in the Asian Cricket Council.

The Asia Cup is the continental One Day International and Twenty20 International cricket tournament. The Indian Premier League a Twenty20 cricket tournament for franchise teams held since 2008.

The India–Pakistan cricket rivalry attracts up to one billion viewers. However, because of the tense India–Pakistan relations, Test series have been interrupted between 1962 and 1977, 1999-2003 and since 2008.


Few Asian male golf players have claimed wins in the PGA Tour or European Tour. The most successful ones have been K. J. Choi, who has eight PGA Tour wins, a third place at the 2004 Masters Tournament and three appearances at the Presidents Cup, and Yang Yong-eun, who won the 2009 PGA Championship.

In contrast, several Asian female golf players have claimed major tournament wins, most notable Inbee Park (seven), Se Ri Pak (five), Yani Tseng (five) and Jiyai Shin (two).

Notable men's golf tournaments in Asia are the WGC-HSBC Champions (China), CIMB Classic (Malaysia), the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai (United Arab Emirates). Meanwhile, the most notable women's golf tournaments in Asia are the LPGA KEB–Hana Bank Championship (South Korea), Blue Bay LPGA (China), Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship.


Takuma Sato driving a BAR Honda

Motorsport is popular in Japan. The country has hosted several international races, such as the Japanese Grand Prix (Formula One), 6 Hours of Fuji (FIA World Endurance Championship), Japanese motorcycle Grand Prix (Grand Prix motorcycle racing), Suzuka 8 Hours (FIM Endurance World Championship), Rally Japan (World Rally Championship), FIA WTCC Race of Japan (World Touring Car Championship), Indy Japan 300 (IndyCar Series), NASCAR Thunder 100 and Coca-Cola 500 (NASCAR Cup Series).

Japan has hosted professional championships like the Super GT, Super Formula, All Japan Sports Prototype Championship, Japanese Touring Car Championship, All Japan Road Race Championship and D1 Grand Prix.

Notable Japanese racecar drivers include Kazuyoshi Hoshino, Satoshi Motoyama, Masanori Sekiya, Seiji Ara, Satoru Nakajima, Kazuki Nakajima, Takuma Sato and Kamui Kobayashi.

The Macau Grand Prix, held since 1954, is known for its Formula 3, touring car and superbikes races.

The Formula One started adding more Asian races in 1999 with the Malaysian Grand Prix. Later followed the Bahrain Grand Prix and Chinese Grand Prix in 2004, Singapore Grand Prix in 2008, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009, Korean Grand Prix in 2010, Indian Grand Prix in 2013 and Azerbaijan's European Grand Prix in 2016.

Major circuits in China (Shanghai and Zhuhai), Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Bahrain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have hosted several other international championships like the FIA World Endurance Championship, World Touring Car Championship, FIM Road Racing Grand Prix Championship, Superbike World Championship, GP2 Series, GP2 Asia Series, Super GT and V8 Supercars.

In rallying, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is held since 1991 and the Sealine Cross-Country Rally is held since 2012. Both are part of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup and FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah has won 2011 and 2015 Dakar Rally, the 2008 and 2015 FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup, the Production World Rally Championship in 2006, and the 2014 and 2015 World Rally Championship-2.

Rugby union[edit]

Main article: Rugby union in Asia

Rugby in Asia is currently dominated by Japan. The Japanese national team are so far the only Asian team to have competed in the Rugby World Cup, having appeared in all seven tournaments so far. Japan has hosted the Japan Sevens and is scheduled to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The Top League is Japan's premier rugby club competition, founded in 2003. In 2016, the Sunwolves joined the Southern Hemisphere-based Super Rugby. The team is based in Tokyo but also plays home games in Singapore.


The most successful Asian countries in tennis have been China, Japan and India.

In men's singles, Kei Nishikori was finalist at the 2014 US Open and two ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, whereas Vijay Amritraj reached quarter-finals at four Grand Slams and was semifinalist at the 1982 WCT Finals. In men's doubles, Leander Paes won eight Grand Slams tournaments and Mahesh Bhupathi won four Grand Slams tournaments.

In women's singles, Li Na won two Grand Slam titles at the 2011 French Open and 2014 Australian Open, whereas Kimiko Date-Krumm won four Japan Open titles was semifinalist at three Grand Slam tournaments. Notable women's doubles players include Sania Mirza, Ai Sugiyama, Hsieh Su-wei, Peng Shuai and Zheng Jie.


China volleyball national team at the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix in Hong Kong

In men's volleyball, the Japan national team has won three Olympic gold medals, including a gold medal in 1972. Also, the team was third at the 1970 and 1974 World Championship, and second at the 1969 and 1977 World Cup. Japan has been less successful in the World League era. Meanwhile, South Korea finished fourth at the 1978 World Championship and Iran finished sixth at the 2014 World Championship.

In women's volleyball, the China and Japan national teams are dominant. China has won two Olympic gold medals, two World Championships, two World Cups and a Grand Prix. Meanwhile, Japan has won two Olympic gold medals, three World Championships and a World Cup. South Korea has also claimed third places at the Olympic Games, World Championship, World Cup and World Grand Prix.


Closing ceremonies of the 1988 Summer Olympics at Seoul

Asia has hosted a total of five Olympic Games: three Summer Olympic Games: 1964 in Tokyo, 1988 in Seoul and 2008 in Beijing, and two Winter Olympic Games: 1972 in Sapporo and 1998 in Nagano. The International Olympic Committee has selected 3 cities from Asia to host the next three Olympic Games: 2018 in Pyeongchang, 2020 in Tokyo and 2022 in Beijing. Beijing will be the first city to host both Summer and Winter Olympic Games.[2]

The three most successful countries at the Olympic Games are China (winners in 2008 and runners-up in 2004 and 2012), Japan (third in 1964 and 1968, fifth as recently as 2004) and South Korea (fourth in 1988 and fifth in 2010 and 2012). Asian countries have dominated judo, taekwondo, badminton and table tennis, while they have also been successful in archery, diving, gymnastics and weightlifting.

The Far Eastern Championship Games was a multi-sport event held from 1913 to 1934, featuring competitors from all over Asia. After World War II, the Asian Games, also called the Asiad, were established in 1951. The Asian Games are the world's second largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.[3][4] There is also a winter edition of Asian Games, which was first held in 1986.

Israel has been banned from the Asian Games since 1978, with the AGF citing security reasons. However, Israeli sports officials contend that it was due to Arab and Chinese opposition to their participation. Samuel Lalkin, general security of the Israel Sports Federation, said "The excuse that we pose big security problems is completely ridiculous if you think that North Korea is competing. That's a worse problem, but they want to see us out. We can't take part because of what we are."[5] Due to the Arab–Israeli conflict, Israel sports federations have joined the European confederations.

Some Asian countries compete at the Commonwealth Games, most notably India (4th in all-time medals), Malaysia (11th), Singapore (13th) and Pakistan (15th). The 1998 edition was held in Kuala Lumpur, whereas the 2010 edition was held in Delhi.

New events[edit]

At the Bandy World Championship 2012[6] in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Federation of International Bandy established an office for Asia and plan to organise the first Asian Bandy Championship in December 2012.[7] FIB President Boris Skrynnik believes in a good development in the region, including the construction of indoor rinks.[1]

See also[edit]