Photo/IllutrationAthletes march during the closing ceremony for the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta on Sept. 2. (Takuya Isayama/ The Asahi Shimbun)

The Asian Games in Jakarta, the 18th session of the quadrennial event, closed Sept. 2.

Japan’s national team achieved good results in general, creating the impression that the country’s competitive potential has been growing. On the negative side, however, four male Japanese basketball players were sent home midway through the competition after it was learned they had hired prostitutes.

The recent spate of scandals in the athletic circles has significantly harmed people’s trust in the sports community. Concerned parties should reflect on the current state in their respective capacities so as to help solidify the foundation anew.

They should think about what they were lacking in and what they should be doing now.

All the 45 countries and regions that are members of the Olympic Council of Asia took part in the latest Asian Games. That fact carries no small significance in light of the spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation.

But the event also highlighted the problem of the escalating scale of the Asian Games, the same trend that has been observed for the Olympic Games.

The number of sports in the Jakarta games tied the previous record of 42, up from 36 during the preceding event held in South Korea’s Incheon in 2014. That came about at the intersection of the desires of the hosting communities, which wanted to include locally popular sports, and the expansion-oriented mind-set of the OCA.

As a result, every single contestant in paragliding, which was included for the first time in the Asian Games, was obliged to join both races for competing in time and the accuracy of landing. That measure was introduced to curb the number of contestants and the expenses, but the two races require the use of different tools and different techniques.

An opportunity to compete in the Asian Games will certainly be an encouragement for athletes. But a management method that imposes excessive stress on athletes on the front lines, along with a risk of accidents, deserves to be questioned.

We are concerned about those things because Aichi Prefecture and its capital city of Nagoya will co-host the Asian Games in 2026.

Officials have said the cost will be 85 billion yen ($765 million), but that estimate does not include the development of permanent facilities, such as gymnasiums and stadiums, and other expenses. The officials would have to face boundless expenditures if they were to be swept up in the ongoing trend toward expansion.

The 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima ended up so expensive that the host city was obliged to cut down substantially on public works projects and personnel costs in the years that followed.

Incheon, the host of the Asian Games four years ago, also reportedly incurred a debt of 92 billion yen in building a stadium and for other requirements.

The officials working for the 2026 event should release honestly stated figures and review their plans on a continual basis.

In a worrisome development, it remains unclear what special significance there is for hosting the Asian Games in Aichi Prefecture and Nagoya, and the games still have low public recognition in the communities that will be hosting them.

The decision to host the Asian Games came all too abruptly for many local residents, as no other city came forward with a bid. Two years have passed since, but no organizing committee has yet been set up.

During a recent OCA general assembly, Aichi Governor Hideaki Omura said that he wants to make sure the Asian Games will be “simple, reasonable and functional.” Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura also said on the same occasion that the games will be a “fun” event.

It remains to be seen, however, if any vision is shared by the officials concerned.

The officials should be working promptly to sort out problems and set a direction. By no means is there a lot of time left to make sure the 2026 Asian Games will be a model for subsequent events.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 2