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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A day at the Asian Games

The Japanese tennis player leaves the ground as he puts all his effort into his serve
After being bedridden with illness for several days, I finally got to witness some action at the Asian Games today. I chose Qatar Sports Club, and though the place was far from full it wasn't quiet either. Qatar has done its best to make the Games accessible to all, including those on the tightest of budgets - I got to see three different sports (and I could have seen more if I'd been there since 9.00 a.m.) for a paltry ten riyals ($2.50). They also had a huge number of volunteers helping out - far more than were needed, but a nice way of getting people involved in the games.

First we watched the men's soft tennis doubles. Although the sitting area was small, it wasn't nearly full - there must have been around 60 supporters for Taiwan and Korea. They still managed to deafen us with their cheering, though. After that, we moved across to the women's single, and watched a tiny Taiwanese lady thrash the Chinese and win Taiwan's first gold medal these games. (China seems to have taken all the rest!)

We then watched Japanese play Thailand for the semi-finals. Here Weightliftingthere was a more decent turnout, although it didn't nearly fill the stadium. Still, the seats in Khalifa Stadium alone represents about 7 percent of the population here, so to expect to fill all the stadiums in Qatar would be naive.

After watching the weightlifting, we bought another ticket (five riyals - less than two dollars) to watch Japan play North Korea. Again, a mostly empty stadium, although there were supporters present for both Japan and Korea. This was better than the women's football match my friends had watched between Japan and Thailand - my three friends had comprised the entire audience. (The Japanese ladies won - not that the Thais seemed to mind, they seemed more intent on having a good time.)

Again, despite their small number the Japanese managed to fill the huge stadium Japanese supporters celebrate as their teams scores a goalwith their enthusastic support - three ring leaders with caps turned backwards orchestrating the cheering and singing, and even involving some local Arab lads who had sitting with them. The North Koreans also seemed very loud at first, until we realised that their cheering and music was coming not from the supporters but empty seats opposite us. The cheeky blighters were playing recordings of cheerings and people singing their national anthem, obviously not trusting the supporters they had flown in.

Two quick goals were scored in the first five minutes: first by the Koreans, then by the Japanese. The two teams seemed evenly matched, although my Japanese colleague told me that the Japanese were playing their under 21 team - their national team is playing in Europe. The Koreans seemed superior at passing, while the Japanese showed both skill and lightning speed in attack.

At half time we left, leaving our Japense friend behind. (The Japanese eventually lost with a score of 2-1.) We went out the Korean supporters, who were trundling out to have a quiet fag. They seemed thin, gaunt and mostly glum faced, clothed in old-fashioned cloth jackets - a stark contrast to the jovial Japanese.

Qatar Open Tennis

Korean cheering and singing fill the stadium - but where is the sound coming from?
YouTube Videos

Watch the Japanese supporters support their team

Listen to the Korean supporters - and try to work out where all that sound is coming from!

Asian Games results

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