Elections to the OCA Athletes' Committee are due to be held at the delayed Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games ©OCA

Elections to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Athletes' Committee are planned for the first time at the delayed 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, it was revealed here at the Athletes' Forum.

The Athletes' Committee is currently chaired by Japan's former sychronised swimmer Mikako Kotani, and currently features 14 other members.

The chair is nominated by their National Olympic Committee (NOC) and elected by the General Assembly, while the remaining members are selected by the Executive Board from nominated candidates.

An election of members is now set to be held at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, scheduled for September 23 to October 8, with a vote for the chair set to place in July 2024.

This is subject to Executive Board approval and the required constitutional amendment to allow an elected chair.

OCA director general Husain Al-Musallam explained the changes to the Athletes' Forum.

"We are going to change the procedure and the guidelines for the Athletes' Committee members," the Kuwaiti official added.

"The guidelines will be ready, you will discuss these guidelines.

"We will do an election for the members of the Athletes' Committee at the Hangzhou Asian Games, and this is the first time it happened for the Asian athletes.

"An election to the chair of the Committee requires a change to the Constitution.

"The Constitution will be amended next year."

Al-Musallam later told insidethegames that elections would be "the proper way to get the voice [heard] correctly" and "help us to improve our services to the athletes".

Members of the Athletes' Committee would be elected to four-year terms at the elections.

OCA Athletes' Committee chair Mikako Kotani said participants should be
OCA Athletes' Committee chair Mikako Kotani said participants should be "proud of the progress of Asia" ©OCA

Kotani announced at the Forum that 40 NOCs in Asia had activated Athletes' Committees, most recently in the United Arab Emirates, in her update on work conducted.

The 56-year-old double Olympic bronze medallist also revealed that the OCA is "almost there" on finalising Athletes' Commissions for Lebanon and Nepal, with Macau and Thailand the remaining NOCs without an athlete representative body.

Kotani vowed to "make sure that we will activate their ACs [Athletes Committees] as soon as possible and we will give our full support".

She noted the participation of 43 NOCs at the Athletes' Forum, and was pleased that 42 women were among the 88 participants and Syria was able to send a delegation after the devastating earthquakes which struck the country, as well as Turkey last month.

"In recent years, we have been promoting the establishment of an athlete committee and the active participation of women in Asia, and I’m very happy to see 43 NOCs joining," Kotani said.

"I think you should be proud of the progress of Asia."

The first day of the Athletes' Forum also featured presentations by International Olympic Committee Athletes' Commission chair Emma Terho and vice-chair Ryu Seung-min on its work and the Athletes365 programme, and an overview of Olympic Solidarity funding available from its associate director for the athletes and sport development division Olivier Niamkey.

It concluded with a presentation on the topic of safeguarding by Jordanian IOC Athletes' Commission and OCA Athletes' Committee member Nadin Dawani on safeguarding, and the presentation of World Olympians Association to eligible athletes.

The Athletes' Forum is set to finish tomorrow.