Handball in the Asian Games

As I am trying to recover from the shock after having seen John Ryan contaminate our web site a couple of days ago by talking about some kind of nonsense activity, that regrettably has not been stamped out or at least banned from its outrageous use of the label ‘handball’, I will try to get all of you, and myself, back on track with the real thing.

The 16th Asian Games had their opening ceremony in Guangzhou, China, on Friday and the handball competition will start on Saturday, at least as far as the men are concerned. The Asian Federation’s web site has offered very little information, whereas some other web sites have shown contradictory information regarding tournament format and playing schedule. It seems relatively certain, however, that the competition will start with the following preliminary groups:
Men A: Qatar, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, India and Mongolia;
Men B: Kuwait, Iran, Rep. of Korea, Bahrain and Hong Kong;
Women A: Rep.of Korea, Taipei, Thailand and Qatar;
Women B: Japan, China, India, P.D.R. of Korea;

The first day of competition has a couple of intriguing match-ups, Kuwait-Bahrain and Japan-Qatar. While the women’s brackets seem to be leading up to rather predictable results, the men’s side should offer a really strong fight for the positions in the medal round. Korea, Japan and Bahrain are in the midst of their preparations for the World Championship in Sweden in January, but several of the other participants are likely to want to show that they are at least as strong. Title defender is Kuwait who won the final against Qatar in 2006.

The participation of Kuwait is somewhat ‘mysterious’. Early in the year, the IOC suspended the Kuwait Olympic Committee. Soon afterwards, some international sports federations, including the IHF, decided to follow this example on an entirely voluntary basis, so the Kuwait Handball Federation was suspended. There have been no indications that these bans are being lifted. And for instance, a strong Kuwaiti referee couple apparently could not be considered for participation in Sweden. However, in some rather absurd way, it appears that the Kuwaiti team was given permission to participate, but on the condition that the flag of the country could not be used!!! The IOC has sometimes given individual athletes the right to participate in Olympic events, on a ‘stateless’ basis and under a neutral flag. But it does seem quite weird that a team can represent its suspended federation under the name of its country… Perhaps we will get a plausible explanation one day!?

The Asian Games have become a major event in China, in the aftermath of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, with vast amounts of modern facilities, not just for the official 28 Olympic summer sports but for a very interesting spectrum of other sports. Americans may find it interesting that baseball is on the program, although of course baseball is these days much more a sport for Asian and Latin American start players than an ‘American pastime’; and then in all fairness, cricket is also on the program. Rugby and squash are undoubtedly intrigued about having a chance to participate. Bowling and chess have also been given an opportunity, and it may not be difficult to understand why dragon boat racing is on the program. More unknown internationally are sebaktakraw and kabbadi, but at least kabbadi seems to have some similarities with handball, especially in the sense of training movement without the ball. http://www.kabaddiikf.com/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabaddi

As results become available from the handball tournament, we will try to provide some updates, at least for the purpose of washing that awful taste out of our mouths following John’s serious sabotage.