1951: First Asian Games in India
Asian Games is the biggest multi-sport games after the Olympic games, the Asian Games is the most prestigious event organized by the Olympic Council of Asia. Similar to the Olympic games, the Asian Games are held every four years. The Asian Games follow the sports programme of the Olympic Games, with swimming and athletics as the core sports, as well as featuring disciplines which reflect the diverse sporting culture of the continent such as sepaktakraw (South East Asia), kabaddi (South Asia) and wushu (East Asia).
The first Asian Games began on March 4, 1951 in New Delhi. This first Asian Games was an Indian initiative, which was intrinsically linked to the larger Indian self-image of being a major Asian power and the Nehruvian idea of India’s significance in a new global order. The Asian games have an astonishing background history as it was first held as West Asian Games at New Delhi in 1934 in which India, Afghanistan, Palestine and Sri Lanka contributed. In view of the enthusiasm it was then decided to hold these games once in four years at mid point between the Olympics. But, these games were discarded during World War II. At the Asian Relations Conference, which did Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru at New Delhi in 1947, Prof. Gurudutt Sondhi, member of the IOC who with support of other famous personalities tried to revise these Games, convene. The Asian Athletic Federation (AAF) was formed in 1948, which decided to hold the first Athletic Championship at New Delhi in 1949. However, the plan did not materialize.
Later in February 1949, the AAF met at New Delhi where it was renamed as “Asian Games Federation” (AGF). The first President and Secretary of AGF were Maharaja Yadvendra Singh of Patiala and Prof. G.D. Sondhi respectively.
The Asian Games Association chose shining Sun as the symbol. Also, they adopted ‘Ever Onward’, given by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, as the motto of the Asian Games. The emblem of Asian Games is a ‘bright full rising sun’ with interlocking rings. The Maharaja of Patiala presented the Torch and the flag for the first Asian Games and since then they have been carried from country to country. The venue for the 1951 Asian Games was the Irwin Amphitheater, a multi-purpose sport complex. Before the opening ceremony of the Games, the stadium was re-christened as the “National Stadium” and renovated for the facilities of different events of the Games.
The Games featured six sports: Athletics, aquatics—broken into Diving, swimming, and water polo disciplines—basketball, cycling—road cycling and track cycling—football, and weightlifting. The sports were broken down into 57 events.
The 1951 Asian featured athletes representing 11 National Olympic Committees. Most importantly, the ideals, hopes and aspirations of Nehruvian India made an important significance in the games.