Having Oceanic rugby and rowing teams at the Asian Games could suffocate the sports development in the continent, leading officials from those two sports have warned.
Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah had earlier this week opened the door to countries from Oceania to one day competing in the Games, a proposal which has been widely greeted with enthusiasm in that region, particularly Australia.
But Trevor Gregory and Ken Lee, the President and secretary general of the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) and the Asian Rowing Federation respectively, have both admitted that they fear countries will be unable to compete, having widespread and damaging repercussions for their sports.
Australia is one of four Oceania nations ranked among the in the HSBC Sevens World Series Rankings, along with New Zealand, Fiji and and Samoa.
The top ranked Asian side is Japan down in 16th position.
Gregory, who is also head of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union, welcomed the improved standard of competition.
But he admitted that he feared Asian sides would be outclassed which could ultimately affect their funding, including in Hong Kong.
Winning a medal at the Asian Games is one of the two criteria needed for continued support by the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI), and, since rugby sevens became an elite sport last April, there are now close to 50 athletes who are part of the elite programme.
"Bringing in Oceania will mean less chance of Hong Kong winning a medal, then what will happen to our status at the HKSI?" Gregory told the South China Morning Post.
"It is one thing to win a medal against the rest of Asia, and another against sides like New Zealand and Fiji.
"It will be great to play against these top sides, but then the HKRFU would have to talk to the people at the [HKSI] and say these changes will have an impact on the criteria for elite status as far as rugby sevens is concerned."
He added that the issue is due to be discussed at the next ARFU meeting in November.
Lee, meanwhile, has also called for more time be given to allow Asian rower to develop before the proposed changes are made.
At last month's World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, New Zealand topped the overall medals table with a total of nine medals, including six gold, while Australia finished third with eight medals, two of them gold.
The only Asian country to win a medal in Amsterdam was China, who claimed a silver and five bronze.
"We need breathing time because Asian countries are going to need a lot more time to develop their rowing," said Lee, a South Korean.
A similar impression was given by International Rowing Federation Executive Committee member, Hong Kong based Australian Mike Tanner.
"New Zealand in these [past] two years is at the top of world in rowing and that would make a major impact in Asia, and in the short term [it] may well have a negative impact to discourage a number of the smaller countries from competing or developing further in rowing," Tanner said.
"In the longer term, of course, good competition will improve standards, but we need to be very careful [about] how that transition is managed."
It has already been confirmed that the 17 countries that make up the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) are due to take part in the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
A special signing ceremony will take place between Sheikh Ahmad and his ONOC counterpart Robin Mitchell during the Association of National Olympic Committees General Assembly in November.
Dennis Miller, Executive Director of ONOC, told ABC Radio today they would wait and see how preparations for the Indoor and Martial Arts Games go before making a specific commitment to taking part in future events organised by the OCA, including the Asian Beach Games and the Asian Winter Games.
But he admit there was a "growing friendship and relationship" between the two organisations.
He also spoke about the potential for training exchanges and further collaboration, highlighting a Court of Arbitration for Sport Seminar held for Asian and Oceanian NOCs in Kuwait earlier this year as one postive example of this growing interaction.
The move would also boost Asian countries, he added, because the presence of Australia and New Zealand would provide potential host cities, at a time in which Asia has struggled to find willing hosts for its many of its events, Miller claimed
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