By Duncan Mackay

OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah has claimed several cities are interested in replacing Hanoi as the host city for the 2019 Asian Games ©OCAHanoi's decision to pull out of hosting the 2019 Asian Games could lead to the event being staged a year earlier if that suits one of the growing number of candidates better, it has been revealed by Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah.

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President has claimed that "several cities" are interested in hosting the 18th Asian Games following the withdrawal in April of the Vietnamese capital because of economic pressures.

He also revealed that he has been given the flexibility to allow a city to host the 2018 rather than 2019 if that makes the event more attractive to them. 

The Games is due to switch to a five-year gap for one edition after the 17th edition in Incheon before returning to a four-year cycle in 2019.

That decision had been taken so the Asian Games avoided clashing with other major events in that cycle, including the Winter Olympics and FIFA World Cup. 

Indonesia were installed as the new favourite to host the Games in the immediate aftermath of Hanoi's withdrawal but India is increasingly emerging as a potential bidder, while Kaohsiung City in Taiwan and Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur remain interested and Chinese city Nanjing, due to host this year's Summer Youth Olympic Games, have also floated the idea of putting themselves forward.

A bid from India, who have hosted the Games twice before, including the inaugural one in New Delhi in 1951, would provide the OCA with a real alternative.

A corruption scandal overshadowed the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi but Indian officials believe it is time to put that behind them and move ©Getty ImagesA corruption scandal overshadowed the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi but Indian officials believe it is time to put that behind them and move ©Getty Images

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) have now thrown their support behind a potential campaign for Delhi to bid to host the Games for a third time, having also staged it in 1982, despite the lingering after-effects of the corruption scandal that tainted the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the Indian capital. 

"It's a good idea [the Indian Olympic Association's desire to host 2019 Asian Games]," said Jiji Thomson, director general of the SAI.

"We have the infrastructure to host such Games.

"Whenever this bid for 2019 Asian Games comes up, we will support it.

"Why should we shy away from hosting these big Games only because there was corruption scandals in 2010 Commonwealth Games?

"I am not denying that there was corruption but we should not remain stuck because of that and not host other big Games."

A successful hosting of the Asian Games could help rekindle Indian ambitions to host the Olympics and Paralympics, claimed Thomson.

"India is the only big country, an important one, which has not hosted Olympic Games," he said.

"I feel India should bid for Olympic Games in near future.

"Had it not been the corruption scandal in 2010 Commonwealth Games, I feel India would have bid for 2020 or 2024 Olympic Games."

The OCA are due to choose a new host city on September 20 during the next edition of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

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