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The 2018 Asian Games will be the 18th edition of the continental sporting extravaganza which started back in 1951. This edition will be held from 18th August to 2nd September 2018 and will be hosted by the two Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang.

This particular edition will host around 10,000 athletes from 45 countries, who will compete in 58 disciplines. Indonesia will be hosting the Asian Games for the second time after the Jakarta Asian Games in 1962.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the games will be held at the Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium in Jakarta.

Vietnam were the original host for the events, but owing to financial reasons they withdrew in 2014. As a result, Indonesia won the resulting bid and had only four years to get ready for the Games.

However, as of August 9, there are deliberations on pertaining to the size of the Indian contingent which will fly over to Indonesia. However, the IOA has already announced a send-off ceremony on August 10.

Sony Ten Network will broadcast the event Live.

The event could also be live streamed on SonyLiv app.

Raising the bar, raising expectations

Despite gold rush at CWG, most athletes and their coaches have already acknowledged that the Asiad is going to be a different ball game.

He is just 19 but national champion M. Sreeshankar came up with a massive 8.28m long jump during training in Thiruvananthapuram early this week. That was nine centimetres better than Ankit Sharma’s national record 8.19m which came on the road to the Rio Olympics two years ago.

“Normally, in long jump, if somebody does something like that in training, they could be doing 20 centimetres more in competition. So, if the going is good, Sreeshankar should do something like 8.40m or more in competition,” said Romanian Bedros Bedrosian, the national coach for jumps.

Around the same time, Asian champion quartermiler Muhammed Anas lowered Dharambir Singh’s three-year-old national record (20.66s) in the 200m to 20.63s at Jablonec, near Prague in the Czech Republic, where the Indian 400m and relay teams are training.

The 18th Asian Games, the biggest multi-sport event after the Olympics, begins here and in Palembang on Saturday and the Indians are raising the bar, raising expectations too. That has virtually been the case just before every major Games, including the Olympics when Indians were very close to the world’s best in a few events on the qualification road two years ago, only to disappoint later.

Despite that worrying feeling, this could turn out to be a very good Asiad for India and the country is expected to surpass its tally of 11 golds which took it to the eighth place in the medals table at Incheon four years ago.

Apart from athletics, a sport which has brought more than half the total number of India’s golds in Asian Games history, the country is expected to do well in badminton too.

But India will run into Uber Cup champion Japan in the quarterfinals of the women’s team event which brought badminton’s lone bronze at the last Asiad. Incidentally, Japan thrashed India 5-0 in their Uber Cup clash early this year.

Talking about badminton, Japan’s new men’s World champion Kento Momota will be one of the biggest stars here after Qatari high jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, the IAAF’s Athlete of the Year, pulled out with an injury.

Chinese swimmer Sun Yang, who is virtually eyeing a freestyle sweep, seasoned squash great Nicol David — the Malaysian who has her roots in Chennai is looking for her fifth gold 20 years after winning her first — and Chinese sprinter Su Bingtian will be among the biggest stars here.

The Chinese appear set to top the table once again but Japan, which will host the next Olympics in 2020, is likely to give South Korea a tough fight for the second spot.

Only the opening ceremony is scheduled for Saturday. Shooting, which will be held at Palembang 600kms from Jakarta, and swimming will be among the prominent events for Indians in the first week.

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