The claim: A tweet published July 21, 2023 claims that eight countries , namely New Zealand, Turkey, Israel, Australia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Cyprus, have officially declared that they will not participate in the 19th Asian Games. The Games are scheduled to be held in eastern China’s Hangzhou city in September 2023. Some alleged that their decision is related to the inclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the Games, as authorized by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
- The Asian Games, organized by the OCA, is a quadrennial sports competition held within the Asian region. The viral post suggests that Turkey, Israel, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Cyprus have declined to participate in the Hangzhou Asian Games. In fact, these countries are members of the European Olympic Committees and will be participating in the 2023 European Games instead of the Asian Games.
- Australia and New Zealand’s national Olympic committees are members of the Oceania National Olympic Committees. Athletes from both countries were invited to participate in certain events of the Hangzhou Asian Games. However, according to a news article published April 26, 2022 by Reuters, both countries declined the invitation and stated that they would not send athletes to the Games. A keyword search did not find any information about the specific reasons or subsequent statements of the two countries’ refusal.
- The official transcript of a press conference about the Games, held in June 2023 by the Chinese State Council Information Office, did not mention whether the countries and regions outside of the OCA members would participate or not. Furthermore, the eight countries mentioned in the viral tweet, who allegedly have declined to participate in the Games, did not take part in the last four editions of the event.
Our verdict: Among the eight countries mentioned in the viral tweet, six are members of the European Olympic Committees, while the remaining two were invited but declined to participate. Therefore, we rate the claim as PARTIALLY FALSE.
According to Xinhua News Agency, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has announced that the 19th Asian Games, which will be held in eastern China’s Hangzhou city, is scheduled to take place from Sept. 23, 2023 to Oct. 8, 2023. A tweet published July 21, 2023 claims that eight countries, namely New Zealand, Turkey, Israel, Australia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Cyprus, have stated that they will not participate in the Hangzhou Asian Games in September this year, while India’s participation is still under consideration.
In the comments section, the author of the tweet shared a screenshot featuring an article titled “Eight countries announce withdrawal from the Hangzhou Asian Games! Pointing finger at Russia. Official Response from the Olympic Council of Asia.” The article includes a video clip* suggesting that the possible reason for the countries’ withdrawal is related to the OCA’s decision to allow Russian athletes’ participation in the Games.
*The article has been deleted. The image below is the video carrying the same title published by the same author on Sohu.
According to a news article published July 9, 2023 by Reuters, the OCA voted July 8, 2023, to permit athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in the Hangzhou Asian Games under a neutral status. This decision aims to assist them in accruing points for qualification to the 2024 Paris Olympics, though they will not be eligible to compete for medals at the Asian Games. The report highlights that since the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022, athletes from both Russia and Belarus have faced restrictions on their participation in numerous international sporting events. Additionally, Russia has previously been banned from global sporting events over doping.
As of the issuance of this report, the tweet had been shared 386 times, 49 times with a quote, and had received 3,203 likes. Similar claims have been circulating on Facebook.
Asian Games are organized by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). According to Article 3, Section 11 of the OCA Constitution and Rules, the Asian Games are held every four years, with the aim of providing fair and equal competition to all eligible competitors of member national Olympic committees (NOCs).
According to the information on OCA’s website, the council is composed of NOCs from 45 countries or regions. The NOCs of the eight countries mentioned in the viral tweet are not included in the list. The data displayed on the official website of the 2026 Nagoya Asian Games indicates a consistent participation of 45 countries or regions in the four consecutive editions of the Games from 2006 to 2018, which aligns with the total number of OCA member NOCs. Based on publicly available information, the eight countries mentioned in the viral tweet did not take part in the most recent four editions of the Asian Games from 2006 to 2018.
Screenshot of the record of past and future Asian Games.
According to the information on the website of IOC, there are currently 206 NOCs representing different countries and regions worldwide. These NOCs are further categorized under five continental associations, which include the OCA. The other associations are the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, the European Olympic Committees, the Oceania National Olympic Committees, and the Panam Sports Organization.
According to the list of NOCs provided by the IOC, it has been discovered that the NOCs of Turkey, Israel, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Cyprus are affiliated with the European Olympic Committees. Additionally, these six countries are also included in the participation list for the 2023 European Games.
The NOCs of Australia and New Zealand are members of the Oceania National Olympic Committees. According to media reports, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) had expressed interest in participating in the Hangzhou Asian Games. Although both countries were invited to take part in the Hangzhou Asian Games, they have declared that they will not send athletes to the event.
According to a news article published Sept. 19, 2017 by The Associated Press, the president of the AOC expressed a desire for Australia to participate in the Hangzhou Asian Games with a full delegation of athletes. However, the president of the OCA responded that with the Asian Games already operating at full capacity of 15,000 athletes and officials, it was unlikely that countries from Oceania would be allowed to join the event. However, another news article published Sept. 21, 2017 by Reuters claims that the OCA issued a statement permitting approximately 300 athletes and 150 support personnel from Oceania countries to take part in the Hangzhou Asian Games, enabling them to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
According to a news article published March 3, 2019 by Xinhua News Agency, the OCA confirmed that athletes from Oceania countries would be eligible to participate in certain team events at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. The invitation was limited to the events that would offer qualification opportunities for the 2024 Paris Olympics, including volleyball, beach volleyball, basketball, football, and fencing. Taking volleyball as an example, based on the qualification criteria for the 2024 Paris Olympics, the world rankings will be utilized to determine the teams qualified for the Olympic tournaments as well as the remaining Olympic places for those countries that do not have qualified teams in the Olympic tournaments. All matches played in top official FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) competitions, Olympic Games, continental championships, qualification tournaments and all annual official events organized by continental confederations will be considered when counting the World Ranking score.
However, a news article published April 26, 2022 by Reuters states that the AOC announced on the same day that Australia would not accept the proposal to send athletes to the Asian Games this year. A spokesperson for the New Zealand Olympic Committee also confirmed that the country would not participate in the Games. According to Reuters and AFP, most international sporting events held in China had been postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic at that time.
Keyword searches on international mainstream media have not found any explicit reasons for the refusal of the two countries, particularly in relation to the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes. Furthermore, no subsequent statements regarding the participation of Australian and New Zealand athletes in the Asian Games between May 2022 and July 2023 have been found. On June 14, 2023, the Chinese State Council Information Office held a press conference to introduce the preparations for the Hangzhou Asian Games and Asian Para Games. According to the official transcript from China News, all 45 Asian NOCs have registered for participation, but there is no mentioning of the participation of countries and regions from Oceania such as Australia and New Zealand.
Among the eight countries mentioned in the viral tweet, six are members of the European Olympic Committees, while the remaining two were invited but declined to participate. Therefore, we rate the claim as PARTIALLY FALSE.
- Twitter, tweet, July 21, 2023.
- Xinhua Net, “Hangzhou Asian Games to Commence on Sept. 23, 2023,” July 19, 2022.
- Sohu Video, “Eight Nations Announce Withdrawal from Hangzhou Asian Games! Russia Under Fire as Asia Olympic Council Responds Officially”, July 21, 2023.
- Reuters, “OCA paves way for Russian, Belarusian athletes to compete at Asian Games,” July 8, 2023.
- BBC, “International Anti-Doping Organization: Russia Banned from Participating for 4 Years, Including Olympics,” Dec. 9, 2019.
- Facebook, post, July 23, 2023.
- Olympic Council of Asia, “WHO WE ARE.”
- Olympic Council of Asia, “Constitution and Rules.”
- Olympic Council of Asia, “NOC.”
- Aichi-Nagoya 2026 Games, “History of the Asian Games.”
- International Olympic Committee, “National Olympic Committees & list.”
- International Olympic Committee, “NOC Associations.”
- European Games, “Participating Countries.”
- Oceania National Olympic Committees, “Members.”
- The Associated Press, “Olympic Council of Asia: Oceania in Asian Games unlikely,” Sept. 19, 2017.
- Reuters, “Olympics: Oceania allowed small quota of athletes at 2022 Asian Games,” Sept. 21, 2017.
- Xinhua Net, “2022 Hangzhou Asian Games Welcomes Oceania Athletes to Participate,” March 4, 2019.
- International Olympic Committee, “How to qualify for volleyball at Paris 2024. The Olympics qualification system explained.”
- Volleyball World, “FIVB Volleyball World Ranking.”
- South China Morning Post, “Australia, New Zealand not sending athletes to Asian Games,” April 26, 2022.
- China News Network, “State Council Information Office Holds Press Conference to Introduce the Preparation of Hangzhou Asian Games and Asian Para Games,” July 27, 2023.