Asian Games 2023: Esports and Breakdancing make their debut, Chess and Cricket return in Hangzhou
The 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou promises to be a thrilling sporting spectacle with the inclusion of esports and breakdancing, marking their debut alongside the return of chess and cricket after a decade-long hiatus.
The decision to incorporate esports and breakdancing into the Asian Games program was made as recently as December 2020, marking their debut alongside the return of chess and cricket, last featured in the 2010 Guangzhou and 2014 Incheon Games, respectively.
New Sports in Hangzhou:
Esports: Originally introduced as a demonstration event during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, esports garnered significant attention, prompting its inclusion as a full-fledged medal event in Hangzhou. Esports provides a spectator experience where video gamers compete against each other in seven different games, including Dota 2, FIFA Online 4, League of Legends, Arena of Valour, Dream Three Kingdoms, PUBG Mobile, and Street Fighter 5, hosted at the China Hangzhou Esports Centre. India is sending a robust all-male 15-member contingent, with a strong chance of success in FIFA Online 4.
Breakdancing: Also known as 'breaking,' breakdancing will offer Asian exponents crucial exposure ahead of its debut as a medal sport in the upcoming Paris Olympics. While opinions on whether it is a sport or a dance form vary, its inclusion in both the Asian Games and Olympic Games programs signifies its recognition as a discipline bridging the line between sport and art form. Hangzhou will host two events for men's and women's breaking.
However, India will not have representation in the breakdancing competition due to the sports ministry's non-clearance of a four-member contingent for not meeting the selection criteria.
Chess and Cricket Rejoining:
Chess: Making a highly anticipated return after a 13-year hiatus, chess will feature four events at Hangzhou: men's individual rapid, women's individual rapid, men's team rapid, and women's team rapid. India boasts a talented group of young players, such as R Praggnanandhaa, D Gukesh, and Arjun Erigaisi, with high hopes for success. China and India will be the top contenders.
Cricket: The sport returns to the Asian Games after its absence in 2018 Jakarta. Both the men's and women's teams from India will compete in the 20-over format, with Ruturaj Gaikwad leading the men and Harmanpreet Kaur captaining the women's side. India's participation adds excitement to the competition.