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Jorge Vargas: Co-founder of the Asian Games Federation

Jorge Vargas.

This piece is in response to queries from people who read my column a few Sundays ago on how the Asian Games was born. Questions boiled down to why was it that the First Asian Games were held in 1951, three years after the idea of Asian Games Federation was hatched as early as 1948 during the London Olympic Games?

Obviously, they were referring to what turned out an initial organizational meeting held August 8, 1948 at the Mount Royal Hotel room of then Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation president Jorge Vargas, grandfather of the now Philippine Olympic Committee president Victorico ?Ricky? Vargas.

It was in that meeting where a sub-committee of five, representing five member countries-to-be, to write the constitution and by-laws of the soon-to-be organized AGF.

Vargas, who was also the first International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines, chaired the committee made up also K.C. Synn of the Korean Olympic Committee, Gunson Hoh of the China Amateur Athletic Federation, G.D. Sondhi of the Indian Olympic Association and Prof. Candido Bartolome, also of The PAAF.

It took six months for the committee to submit the proposed charter for ratification to a nine-man body, which met on February 12-13, 1949. Only five of the nine who attended the conference representing the Philippines, Afghanistan, Burma (now Myanmar), India and Pakistan, signed the document.

Representatives from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Indonesia, Nepal and Siam (now Thailand) also signed but only after ratification by their governments and Nationa Sports Associations.

The new charter also set the staging of the inaugural Games on February, 1950 in New Delhi as concession for hatching the idea of organizing the Federation as early as 1934 during the opening of the First Western Asiatic Games.

H.H. Yadavindra Singh of Idia was elected the AGF first president during the two-day conference with Vargas as vice president. Sondhi was elected honorary secretary general.
Vargas offered Manila as host of the Second Asian Games in 1954 and was granted.

Events to be contested in the inaugural Games were also approved ? athletics, swimming, tennis, baseball, hockey, basketball, volleyball, football, boxing, wrestling and weightlifting and all other sport in the calendar of the Olympic Games.

Difficulties on the part of the host country to get the stadium, accommodations and other requirements ready for the inaugural presentation forced the Games to be moved from 1950 to March of the following year.

And so on March 4-11, 1951, the First Asian Games unfolded with 11 countries taking part ? Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, The Philippines, Nepal, Singapore and Siam Thailand ? at New Delhi?s Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

From there, all Games were being staged under the same spirit of peace for all, respect and goodwill, marking more than half-a-century of unity and friendship among the youth of Asia.

After 31 years, seven more editions, the Games returned to New Delhi in 1982 in what turned out the last held under the auspices of the AGF which was replaced by the now Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) a year earlier.

With the aim of preparing the country for hosting the 1988 Olympic Games, South Korea bid and won the right to stage the 10th Asiad in 1986 in the City of Seoul under the aegis of the OCA.

From then on up to the on-going 18th edition, the second biggest multi-event conclave have been managed and supervised by OCA.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.

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