Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has written an open letter to the OCA members outlining plans for 2017 ©Getty Images

Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), has sent a celebratory new years message to all members looking forward to a "groundbreaking 2017".

In the letter published on the OCA's website, Al-Fahad Al-Sabah wished everyone involved in sports around Asia a Happy New Year on behalf of the Council before going on to look ahead at 2017.

The continent has two major multi-sport events to look forward to in 2017, the eighth Asian Winter Games in Sapporo in Japan, due to be held in February as well as the fifth Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat in Turkmenistan which will take place in September.

"This will be the third time Sapporo has hosted our Asian Winter Games, and the fourth time for Japan, and we are very confident that Sapporo 2017 will be a great success," said Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

"The 1972 Winter Olympics host city has vast experience in staging world-class winter sports events at world-class venues, and we know we can rely on Sapporo and on Japan to put on a world-class Asian Winter Games from February 19-26.

For the first time in the Games' history, there will also be the extra element of athletes from Australia and New Zealand competing.

This follows an invitation to Oceania athletes by the OCA, after a request by Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates.

The 2017 Asian Winter Games in Sapporo is one of two major sporting events the OCA is organising this year ©Sapporo2017
The 2017 Asian Winter Games in Sapporo is one of two major sporting events the OCA is organising this year ©Sapporo2017

"There will be added interest this time, as athletes from two Oceania National Olympic Committees (NOCs) - Australia and New Zealand - will be competing alongside Asian National Olympic Committees.

"Still, this will add value to our Asian Winter Games, while strengthening the bond and cooperation between the OCA and Oceania.

"We are sure all these factors will make our Asian Winter Games in Sapporo and co-host city Obihiro even more attractive to media and spectators alike, and that the competitions will bring the crowds flocking to the snowy mountains and iconic ice rinks of the beautiful capital of Hokkaido Island."

Following Sapporo 2017, the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games then take centre stage later in the year.

The event is the highest-profile sporting event due to take place in Turkmenistan as the gas-rich nation seeks to boost its profile on the sporting stage.

All 45 Asian National Olympic Committee and 17 from Oceania are due to compete at next year's Games in a special collaboration between the two continents.

Action is due to take place in Ashgabat from September 15 to 24 next year while the city will also host its second OCA General Assembly in three years.

Ashgabat will host the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games ©Getty Images
Ashgabat will host the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games ©Getty Images

"I have visited Turkmenistan several times in the past few years and I can promise you some of the best sports facilities I have ever seen will be awaiting the athletes," added Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

"The Olympic Complex of Ashgabat is a spectacular accomplishment, with more than 30 competition venues and related infrastructure, and is testament to the emphasis placed on sport and a healthy lifestyle by the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov."

Other large events are also scheduled in the continent for next year.

Almaty in Kazakhstan will host the 28th Winter Universiade at the end of January while Taipei City prepares to host the 29th Summer Universiade in August.

Al-Fahad Al-Sabah cast an eye further into the future as he concluded the message though, calling the continental bodies to help organisers of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

"With our next Asian Games just 20 months away, the OCA calls on all NOCs, Asian Federations and other stakeholders to work quickly and efficiently with the organising committee throughout 2017 to pave the way for a smooth and successful 18th Asian Games in 2018.

"The Indonesian organisers have no time to waste in their preparations, so let’s show our unity and solidarity once again by working as a team in the exciting and busy months ahead."