April 28 - Celebrations took place today to mark 200 days-to-go until the 4th Asian Beach Games in Phuket, an event which has special significance as the forerunner of the inaugural World Beach Games which is currently being proposed.
The celebrations took place at the Jungceylon Shopping Mall in Patong, and featured a progress report by the Governor of Phuket Maitri Inthusut.
Also in attendance was the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport Suwat Sidthilaw and the Organising Committee chairman Kanokphand Chulakasem, as well as an Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) delegation led by director general Husain Al Musallam.
A tour of the six different venue clusters was also organised to give a first hand update on progress, beginning at the Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa, the headquarters for the OCA and Organising Committee during the Games.
A visit was then paid to one of the two main venue clusters on Karon Beach, where marathon swimming, sailing and windsurfing, as well as handball, volleyball and basketball, will be among the sports to take place.
This was followed by a visit to the second main cluster close to the shopping mall on Patong Beach, where beach wrestling, muay thai, and jet ski are among seven sports being held, before a visit to the Saphan Hin Sports Centre on which flag football, soccer, extreme sports and sport climbing will take place on sandy grounds adjacent to the sea.
In total, the Games will feature 147 events in 23 sports and are due to take place from November 14 until November 23.
During the tour, the organisers were keen to stress that the Games will bring more than just sport to the area, and they see them as an opportunity to promote local and international tourism.
In particular, they claimed that by hosting events in the Saphan Hin area they are catering to the demands of the local residents in an area which also has a Sports Authority of Thailand branch office and a second sports centre which will become a media centre during the event.
But the Games, which follows the success of previous editions in Bali in 2008, Muscat in 2010, and Haiyang in 2012, also has a second role as the forerunner of the first World Beach Games which will probably take place in 2017 and will be a joint project between SportAccord and the Association of National Olympic Committees.
Speaking earlier this year OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah claimed, through the Games, Asia is "trying its best to maintain the momentum of beach sports, with attention on both Olympic and non-Olympic disciplines" in order to raise the popularity of beach disciplines on a global stage.
He also praised the organisers of Phuket 2014 for how they or how they had dealt with the impressive number of new sports being added to the programme, with just 49 events spanning 13 sports held at Haiyang two years ago.
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